Category Archives: AAR

Cold Wars 2017, a minor pilgrimage

the Mighty Susquehanna!

The Mighty Susquehanna!!! (we shout this every time)

Hurray!  Once again the sun dawns on a trip to an exotic faraway location where I can play toy soldiers all weekend long.  As happens this time in March, The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society held their annual SPRING convention, namely, Cold Wars, last weekend.  The “exotic faraway location” being, of course, Lancaster PA, a location about as faraway and exotic as day old Wonder bread, but hey, we like it, so there.

Note that Friday was Saint Patrick’s Day, which I celebrated by my standard boycotting of feeling obligated to wear green.  As I’ve said many times, the Irish have given much to America.. so much beyond buffoonery, drunkenness and stuff like this.  I prefer to have a little dignity about a Saint’s Day.

Gar and I had our mutual acts together and the van packed the night before, so we aimed at being on the road at 7:30, with a predictable, actual start of 8:30.  Sigh, that’s entropy for  you.  Journey was uneventful, but longer than usual because THIS time, we stopped for breakfast.

mmmm.. coffee

New Oxford Family Diner.  They made a decent egg white omelette, and the coffee was passable.

Our arrival was 1230ish, even with petal to the metal (legally of course). I really had had ambitions to TRY to get into a Frostgrave event this weekend, it didn’t pan out. I did, however, get a chance to see some splendid Frostgrave scenery for the ongoing tournament in the tournament area.

Click to Enlarge Frostgrave Photos

I also had a notion of getting in an event during the day Friday but that didn’t pan out.. the siren song of the Exhibitor Hall and Flea Market delayed my steps. I was happy to bump into a flea market guy selling bulk 28mm individual figures from a few historical periods– Romans, Gauls, Germans and Vikings, etc. I picked up a bunch of 28mm Vikings (for Viking Looters and SAGA).  I’m not sure what manufacturer this was; I didn’t ask too many questions.  Also, on Friday, I picked up more Copplestone KISS KISS BANG BANG figures for a game I’m designing called SPY RUN.  Wait’ll ya see, wait’ll ya see.

So I wandered around for a bit, talked with friends, and say some great games being run.  Nothing that knocked my socks off, but that’s okay, a lot of people were having a good time.

Homemade ironclad miniatures– using air dried modeling clay!

Now, that’s OLD school.

Big ships, pirates.. yep, Brian Whitaker is around.

Later on we foolishly risked losing our parking spot to go out and get dinner, my son being no great fan of Hall Pig (we were at the ass end of beyond, anyway, and Sherpas ain’t cheap). I have to say, normally, I’m no great fan of chain restaurants in a neighborhood where there are tons upon tons of locally owned and operated family joints, but there was something about a Cracker Barrel, mashed potatoes, roast beef, and coffee, near a fireplace.  It was in such stark contrast to the outside I got positively drowsy.  So I was still in a good mood when I attempted to come BACK to the Host and park.  I’ll be the guy to bring this up; what idiot left the front right parking lot (diagonal from the Lampeter half snowed in for the entire weekend??? The convention lost about 20 parking spots, maybe more, due to there being gigantic drifts piled up from snow removal.  Don’t they use snow blowers in Lancaster?   It was a lousy job of snow removal, and it impacted us.

Might as well bring it up since people who didn’t show up will wonder.  How is the Host these days?   Well, kind of a mixed bag.  I didn’t stay there (more on that miserable experience later) so I can’t comment on the state of the rooms that got rennovated.  The physical plant appears to be operating, but there were still signs of wear all over the place that badly needed fixing and attention.  Basic stuff, like the railing to the handicapped entrance ramp only held up by one post stuck into crumbling concrete.  If someone ever puts their weight on it, they’re in for a nasty fall.  The hotel appeared to be operating normally otherwise– no overflowing toilets, the heating and a/c worked.. the wireless was just an gigantic joke.  I tried periscoping and/or Facebook Live from the show, and it just kept dropping connections.

Conventions at the Lancaster Host.. they are not for sissies.

Live Action Dripcam footage on Instagram

Caesar Vs. Pluck

Once back, I got a spot in Jeff Wasileski’s Caesar Vs. Pluck game.  This is an adaption of Howard Whitehouse’s older Science vs. Pluck for the Roman era.  Yours truly played the Imperial Heir Domitian, younger brother of Titus and son of Vespasian.  Jeff’s games call for much playing of roles and skullduggery as a rule.  As I had played Domitian before in 2013, the last time Jeff ran a a game of CVP, I took the role of Domitian again.  This was a great scenario.  Barbarians (The Ruritani and Schwetti?) have taken over a local Imperial city on the coast, and have been despoiling it for a couple of weeks.  Domitian, spoiled brat that he is, yearns for some glory to get out of his older brother’s shadow.  Well, he got some glory in spades, as it were. Like last time, Domitian has been entrusted with military command, and a couple of decent veteran soldiers to make sure he doesn’t mess everything up.  The command is split into land and sea.  Domitian plans to land a naval force, offloading some Romans and wiping out pirate reinforcements, while a veteran legion drives the barbs to the sea.  That was the theory anyway.  Jeff loves games with factions and we played it to the hilt.

Romans on the attack

Pirates getting a lot more than they bargained for

Flaming naptha pirates come to grief.

Landing force seems overwhelmed

Meanwhile the field army was in trouble!

I played Domitian exactly like one SHOULD play Domitian– ambitious, angry, trying to prove himself (he’s very young in this time period). I have to say, the Romans killed like champions in this scenario. I dropped off the landing barges on the beach and went in for the Ram on the nearest Pirate galley with my Liburnian. We didn’t sink it but we did damage it, and then my gladiator cohort boarded it and turned the crew into chutney. Just like that. THEN, the gladiators rowed the ship over to the local hijacked grain ship, thinking they could liberate that too… mistake! The hatches to the hold burst open and 25 pirates swarmed out– the good kind. Against 9 gladiators. The gladiators held a line and marched right at them. Oddly, the pirates took some casualties, broke their morale, and they dove over the side. I mean, ALL of them. And the grain ship was ours. So we rowed back around to the where the galleys were still engaged in with Greek Fire shooting ships. We tried to sink one from a distance but lost patience and rammed the hell out of it, sinking it instantly. With that, the pirate naval forces were gone, decimated.

Gladiators solve problems.

We landed some boat crews and soldiers. They supported the land forces that were expanding a toehold on the beach. And, as soon as the Gladiators supported the flanks, the beach side barb forces were crumbling right and left and running for it. The land side forces initially did NOT do nearly as well, also playing their roles to the hilt and were non-cooperative. The Barb cavalry was pretty vicious, in fact. Eventually, things started to stabilize, and a line was formed.

Romans capture the signal tower on the hill

I feel like if we had played a few more turns, the naval force would have fought all the way to the land force. Everything around the naval force had taken to the hills. Rome clearly had a smashing victory by any measure, especially when a cave of pirate loot was discovered, destined for the coffers of the Roman treasury. THAT’s a victory. Now, I’m not sure I played Domitian exactly how I’d like to think was accurately. Domitian wasn’t exactly a killing machine in real life, but I played it as best I could– petty, backstabbing, and tyrannical. GREAT game, and Jeff and his son Nick won a PELA for it. Well deserved.

I took a ton of pictures of Caesar vs. Pluck.  If you want to see a screenshow, click on the Roman Eagle:

The Wasileskis basking in the glory of their well deserved award.

After we finished there we went to the hotel and finally checked in. Word of warning, do NOT bother with the tiny Red Roof motel on the Host side of Route 30. OMG.. it redefines the term “Spartan”, given that the Spartans enjoyed cold baths, hard sleeping surfaces, and occasionally dealing with angry Persians. This motel is 1 star at best; only because they won’t let you rate it lower. Sigh. It was cheap. Next time I’ll pay more and be able to sleep.

The next day..

Since the Red Roof dump we were staying in deigned not to serve any kind of breakfast, we did Panera, and then went back to the convention.  Even on Saturday, it was a hard slog finding a parking spot, but we managed way out at the end of the expansion lot they built where the Congressional used to be.   I suppose that’s good news (no parking should equal high attendance, usually, but I think you can blame a lot of no parking in this instance on inadequate snow removal).

There were still some great games on Saturday, though I thought the space wasn’t filled up by any means.

7TV Wreck of the Fafnir Alpha

Wreck of the Fafnir Alpha, a setting for 7TV

Once again, I did a run on the dealer’s room since I had a ticket for a 7TV game run by a gentleman named  Keith Frye at 2:00 PM. I’ve wanted to play 7TV for a long time now.  The system is kind of/sort of set up as a roleplaying game of a television show from mythical 60s or 70s spy shows.  So every game will have a kind of ridiculous retro style to it that I find very entertaining.  The mechanics aren’t very complicated… mostly rolling against skill checks, which is really just a way of validating “doing crazy stuff”.  And crazy stuff there was!!!  This was a great crew of players, many of whom I have played with in similarly silly games run by other GMs.  The plot wasn’t hugely complicated.. or was it?  The action took place on a giant petroleum platform called the Fafnir Alpha.  There were spies, corporate troubleshooters, regular shooters, strikers, spies, super criminals, and a giant alien blob creature.  One predictable side got in a predictable gunfight with another predictable side, and while they were hung up with that, I tried (as Archer, yes, that guy) to intercept some kind of briefcase and get off the platform.  Since it seemed clear that I wasn’t going to get to the helicopter in time to do that, I had Lana shoot the pilot dead, which lead to a series of unfortunate and somewhat hilarious results: 1) there was now no way off of the platform for, well, anyone; 2) the briefcase was still on the platform; and 3) the faceless super-villain made a heroic leap for the diving (uncontrolled) helicopter and managed to control it before it hit the drink!  What a great time!

I have a ton of photographs of this game, if you want to see them in a flickr slideshow, go here.

I’m blanking on what we did for dinner, but again, it wasn’t hall pig.  I know I made a quick run to the dealer’s room to get some pre-dreadnought 1:2400 ships from Viking Forge, then got back in time to play SAIL POWER at 8:00

Jolly Jack Tars.. or the Dutch equivalent

Sail Power aka, another excuse to spank Scott Landis

I played this game at FALL IN, and had a great time–  it was a combat-centric game set in the age of sail,in roughly 15mm scale.  The sailing and combat mechanics are a little fiddly, but once you get the hang of it, perfectly understandable.

This game was very different from the one I played at FALL-IN! Even though I was sailing a giant Indiaman, with tons more cannons than the single gunboat I was sailing in last game, I fired nary a shot. This was ostensibly because the scenario was more nuanced than “just shaddup and try to sink Scott Landis”. Scott was indeed present, but managed to escape justice and hot shot by scampering away and engaging in some chicanery with the Spaniards and local merchants. Next time, next time. I actually enjoyed THIS game more than the last one– my goal, as the Dutch player, was to bring a suitable bribe to the Spanish governor in the fort at the center of the table and have him commit to the ongoing war with the English on our side. The British want the same things, of course, but I got there first, with a large suitcase of bribes (3,000 gold and a chimpanzee). I played the diplomatic thing to the hilt, rendering honors going into a Spanish port, running in the guns when at the dock, etc. Sure, it’s fun to smash your opponents to flinders sometimes, but it’s also fun to bribe Spanish governors in SAIL POWER’s meta game, of sorts. Garrett and I (and Scott Landis) all had a great time.

Yes, I have tons of pictures of this game, too. You can see a slide show here.

It was cool to see Eric G.’s ROAD WARRIOR game on Saturday night, but I was involved in Sail Power and couldn’t play.  The 28mm stuff is very impressive but tends to make for a very crowded and slow race IMO.

Speaking of Garrett, and we weren’t, what was HE doing all this time? Killing big stompy mechs, that’s what. Garrett has become quite a fan of Battletech in the past two years, and he’s not bad at it.

Click on the picture to see his slideshow, and here’s Garrett’s review of Cold Wars 2017:

Cold wars 2017 was a blast, great fun the whole time. My father and I arrived on Friday, I partook in a game of battletech (a favorite of mine), kicked some butts, and took some names. Many fun moments were had that game, such as my mech falling, getting back up only to be knocked over by an enemy who fell over as well. The next day, I played battletech most of the day, the game was pretty eventful, with great plays by everyone involved. The GM(s) running battletech gave out a miniature for every kill you got in the game, in total I received 11 of them. Saturday ended with a game of Sailpower, a large boat game with a fantastic rule set. Sailpower was a great time, the people running it were fun and the game was great,t a nice mix of trading, fighting, exploring, and strategy. Finally on the last day, my dad and I checked out the dealer’s hall and the flea market, we found some cool things we could use for games. Cold wars 2017 was great I had a fun time there playing games and socializing.

Sunday was largely predictable.. nothing in the Flea, no last minute purchase in the dealer’s area, so we saddled up, got some breakfast and then we bolted for lands South.

Homeward Brave Soldiers, homeward! Farewell, Oh Mighty Susquehanna!

Observations and Whatnot: Cold Wars 2017 was a great time for me personally– I played in the kind of games that I love to play in, played enough games to keep me amused but not flat out exhausted, got enough rest and nutrition to not feel like dropping dead on the way home and just generally had a great time. That is not to say that I think CW17 was particularly well attended (I know it’s corny to say “it looked light” but it really did, and that was probably because of the recent snow). The new owners of the Host have (mostly) fixed the roof and I hear hot water was present without renting a rent-a-plant. I can’t vouch for the room redecorating, I stayed in a horrid motel down the road a bit (my one star Yelp review is HERE). I do think there are many features of the ‘rennovated’ hotel that don’t look like they have changed at all. Word is that Lancaster will host all three conventions in 2018, so here we all are back again!

In any event, this was one fun Cold Wars, despite the snow, despite the awful motel, despite a leaky roof.. I had a fantastic time and so did Garrett.


Fall-IN! 2015: More like a Whimper than a Bang!

Once again, another fun Convention Recap by yours truly. In this instance, Fall-IN! 2015, from the warm, yet leaky embrace of the Lancaster Host resort, Lancaster PA.

The Host went all out on the roof repair for our benefit!

Thursday’s child has far to go,

I didn’t have a game to run (though now I wish I had). So I checked in and started to deal with an immediate problem with Guidebook for FALL IN! 2015. I had made a last minute insertion update with the data given to me by Events. I had to format the data several times because it kept not accepting it… Now I think there was something going on with the servers right when I sent that because after it worked, we were missing something along the lines of 200 events. I worked through the problem with Guidebook and extracted the delta from the original data, then inserted the delta, which (finally) fixed the problem. I apologize for anyone who was inconvenienced by GB, I assure you, this is the first time I’ve had any problems in 12 conventions of using it, so we’ll just have to do it right for Cold Wars 2015.

I didn’t do a lot of convention stuff Thursday night, didn’t even stay up late in the bar, as it was virtually empty of life. The crowds were just starting to arrive but the place wasn’t packed. I attended the CD’s meeting and tried to stay out of the way, even though I had volunteered if they were short handed. Dan appeared to be short staff on Thursday but all kinds of people jumped in to help with the rush.

So not much in the way of gaming Thursday but I did get a chance to see the awesome set up for SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIGGER STICK! by Michale Konwinski and crew. If you didn’t see it, this was that gigantic pulp city in the upstairs lobby. Michael and crew were setting up most of Thursday night, where I managed to do a little quick run through..

(An Ipad isn’t the best camera platform for filming miniatures, so bear with me)

Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Friday I had no plans so I just wandered about and did some shopping. I have got my hands on the raw materials for a game so jaw-droopingly sacrilegious it will offend nearly everyone. More details as they firm up. In the meantime, here’s some clues:

This gave me a chance to jaw with Otto Schmidt, who is a favorite collaborator, and use a range of figures from Sergeant Major that I’ve passed by a few years running with the idea that “there’s a game in here somewhere, it’s just not talking to me yet”… it was fun to get the gears turning on this one.

I did game one official game on Friday. This was “GET THE STONEWALL”, a hypothetical ironclad game (as most ACW Ironclads tend to be). Rule were Sail and Steam navies (from Bay Area yards) which I had tried in the past and most emphatically did not like. However, THIS game went swimmingly, and I’m not saying that because the Union side (which I was on) won. It really did move much faster and more streamlined from the last time I played it, which was Historicon 2015.

Passaic (front right) and Patapsco (bottom) encounter the Jackson (center left) trailing a few other ash n’ trash like CSS David class torpedoes. The Passaic renders good service here, smashing the steering on the Jackson and sending him swinging the wide arc around and effectively out of the fight.

Later in the same fight. The Jackson is still turning to face us (background). The other union ships are fighting behind the island top left and not doing very well. The Stonewall did get engines fired up and in motion (bottom right) but once again we rendered good service by taking out their long gun early in the fight. The GM keeps this fact hidden from me (as he should) and we had to play it safe, not coming in close to the Stonewall and keeping him bracketed at a distance, shooting him to pieces.

I captained the USS Passaic and Patapsco monitors. I smashed the steering on the CSS Jackson early in the game, effectively taking her out of the fight until very late in the game. I didn’t know this, of course. As we neared the Stonewall on dock, it was trying to frantically load munitions and get steam up. Again, all unknowing, I blew up Stonewall’s big gun, leaving her toothless for long range fights. She was still dangerous, so I kept my distance and kept her under fire, and that’s where the GM called it a Union victory. My union colleague lost a ship, as the Rebs converged upon him. Not what I would have done, but hey, there it is.   GM ruled it a Union victory as we achieved our major objective (or would have in a few more turns of pounding the Stonewall).  Even though we lost an ironclad.   I got a prize– the USS Keokuk for my part in the battle.

HERE is an animated slide show of GET THE STONEWALL in MP4 format, with a little accompaniment by Swamp Candy.

There were a lot of great games at FALL IN! 2015, though really I couldn’t grasp if any period or rules dominated.  FROSTGRAVE (by Osprey) is a big new thing, and reminds me of a snowy Mordheim in some respects.  I only saw a few games of it being run but, wow, the terrain was excellent on the ones I did see.  Historically? probably  it was mostly Napoleonics but it didn’t seem as if there were more than usual in evidence.   Lots and lots of pulp games were in evidence, which is probably going to get someone’s panties in a wad somewhere, but there it is.   Here’s a nice screen show of a sampling of games at the convention:

Click for Slide Show of miscellaneous games run on Friday and Saturday at Fall IN! 2015. Mostly Distelfink and the surrounding small club rooms.

Friday, during the day, the Distelfink was a wasteland, there were many open tables.  They got full up at night, though.  That’s about the extent of any gauge of attendance or participation I did.  I don’t think any game I saw was exactly hurting for people but many didn’t have the full compliment either.

My personal favorite historical spectacle was Bill Moreno (from Good Ground)’s 10mm ‘ Battle of Fredericksburg layout, which deserved whatever prize thingy it go.  He gets much respect from me.  See for yourselves, it looks like a Currier and Ives engraving:

I have NO IDEA what attendance records were.  Dan Murawski seemed to think we were going to go over 2000, which would have been pretty amazing for any Fall IN! show. I’m not sure it happened, though.   I hope it does– Fall IN! continues to grow as our Yankee brethren forfend to attend a convention in Fredericksburg (if you take TMP dross seriously)– so Historicon’s loss is Fall IN’s gain, although as usual it’s hard to quantify ANY statement about who actually comes to shows and why they stay away from others.

The bald guy in the center had the highest pitched giggle I've ever seen come out of a man in my life.

The New York State/Erie folk who arrange Toys for Tots donations and raffles for FALL IN! were once more back on the job, doing a good job.   Seemed a little quiet this year, however, I missed Santa Moe.

I admire what Uncle Moe and his sizable crew do for Toys for Tots.. giving the lie to the perception that all gamers are immature selfish bastards with bad BO and poor social skills.  I mean, we do occasionally do something nice for charity, despite the BO and bad social skills, right?  That has to count for something!

Saturday’s child works hard for a living,

I found myself not much interested (again) in staying up late and drinking in the bar, since it was somewhat devoid of a crowd.  So I went to bed and got up in time to weasel my way into Brian DeWitt’s epic portrayal of the Persian victory at Artemisium.  What’s that?  You always heard it as being a GREEK victory?  Well, so it might have been, were it not for our right flank and some profoundly bad luck.  Brian’s a great designer and a good “systems man” in his approach.  I liked this rule set, which he claims is not ready for prime time, but it seemed pretty well defined to me.

Click to see the slideshow/MP4 of this epic LOSS (grumble grumble) by the valiant Greek navy.

Having lost Western Civilization in the morning, I cast about to see the rest of the world, doing a run on the flea market and not accomplishing much. I did get a copy of Samurai Battles (brand new) for 20 bucks from the designer. Not bad at all. I also got a few assorted bits here and there, nothing special. I also went to the vendor hall and picked up a cigar box game mat, for my 3D rocket man game (more on that in the near future).

To be honest, it was a lot of same-old, same-old. No hot new products this year.

My firm intention was to play in yet another ironclad game in the afternoon but I was feeling pretty dog tired, even though I had eaten reasonably well and not stayed up massively late as I am used to at these conventions. I’m not sure what it was but it did make me feel a little pekid. My intention was to sleep for a half an hour.. HA!!

After a decent meal (at the host, where I ate most of them), I knocked about a bit and waited for Eric’s ROAD WARRIOR INVITATIONAL to get started.  He was going big this year, or going home..

Now, I thought the vehicles showed amazing creativity and ingenuity… but wow, I don’t like that crowded track.  There’s no room to get around each other, and soon something like this happens:

And we had to give the tail end charlies Pity Pushes to have them keep up with the race! Pity Pushes– ME. I nearly took out the truck with a motorcycle, single handed!! and now I’m getting a pity push? The shame is great!

Oddly enough, many drunken hoarse renditions of the phrase WITNESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSMEEEEEEEEEE! was not enough to get the truck over the finish line without being stopped by the forces of Bad.  Humbling, ain’t it?

And so to bed.

But the child who is born on the Sabbath day,
Is lucky and happy and good and gay.  (in the old sense of the word).

Sunday was the usual last pass on the Flea Market (found a few neat 15mm Khurasan figures) and the dealer room (not much of anything except some Stan Johansen Road Warrior stuff).   After the usual goodbyes, I was nosing my van into traffic for the long ride home, where, I am happy to say, someone was glad to see me.

That was my Fall-IN! 2015.  Not a bad convention, not the greatest one I was ever at, but it all went smoothly with no headaches.  Good work, Dan and crew!! you make it look easy.  That’s all for now, I’ll see you all at COLD WARS 2016!

Fall-IN! 2013 Post 1: the Games I ran

We’re back from Fall-IN! and I will be doing two blog posts on the topic, This is Post 1, the games I ran at Fall IN!, of which there were two.


Friday I ran a game of BIG DANGED BOATS, my 15mm fantasy naval rules set.  This was my event write-up.

F-110 “Fun and Games on the Middle Sea”

It’s a 15mm Fantasy naval extravaganza. Pilot a dubiously seaworthy, slightly ridiculous ship in an all hands battle for domination of the Middle Sea! Rules are Big Danged Boats for 15mm fantasy naval combat. If you’ve had a hankering for a naval game where you can take to the seas riding on a giant steam powered cheese, fighting evil squid headed cultists riding the foot of a dead god (and who hasn’t?), this is the game for you!! Rules are dead simple and aimed at fun rather than statistics. Children welcome, but 12 and under requires a parent to play along with. ROLE PLAYING IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. If you can’t summon an evil nautical Sea Dog persona for this game, please go play Flames of War! They’ll take care of you!

This game was, by my reckoning, maybe the third or fourth game received by the Events coordinator for Fall-IN! 2013.  It represented a significant effort on my part as it’s a bit labor intensive to put on.  Accordingly, I asked for  standard table size of 5 x 8, with a side table to help me set up with.  Somehow, when I showed up with my boxes of stuff  an hour early to set up, the table became a table that no less than three events were scheduled to use the same table simultaneously!  And no side table!  Since the tables had no numbering on them, it became a logistical chore of the first order to unscrew this problem.   Sadly I think I stepped on the guy next to me since my tables weren’t remotely ready, and HE had to move.  I apologize for this, whomever you were.  I attribute the problem to (perhaps) miscommunication on my part with the event coordinate, but apparently I was not the only person who had a table misadventure.  Organizational Note: Numbers on tables helps.  Printing the map of the table layouts so people can read it helps.  Proofing the Convention book helps.  Guidebook Note: break Distelfink map into two maps, North and South, so they are more readable.

The Game Itself

Big Danged Boat Ships (from Summer Camp)

BDB is a pretty easy game to play, but it has tons of components, ships, crews and whatnot to set up, all of which takes time to break out.   I’m going to an hour and a half setup time, because clearly, an hour isn’t nearly enough.  I am not happy with the rules as written so I haven’t really thrown the printed rules out there for a game, preferring to run it from my tablet computer.  I had some gentle criticism about not having a lot of paper charts for everyone to refer to.  I’ll fix that.

After being rattled during setup over the table fiasco, I didn’t get going until ten minutes after start time, and so it goes.

Factions were: The Gnomes of Battenberg  The Iron Dwarves, the Bone Brigade, the Imperial Navy of Stahlhelm (making its debut), the Cult of F’Vah, The Sea Elves, The Orcish Revolutionary Council or O.R.C. (also making a debut), the Rat-Men of Ingoldsby and The Pirates of Stinkwater.

Deployed, but not selected, were the Wood Elves of the Father Tree, The Seng, the Holy Brothers of Saint Brendan.

The Imperial Ram of Stahlheim chugs into battle, aiming for the Bone Brigade’s doughty Deadnought

Like most games we started with the ships entering the battle area from the surrounding ring of the table side. As a special incentive there were two maxi-kegs of Boom Powder on Skull Island to bring the action into the center. It was minimally effective.

The Rat Men steamed for the island, and got into a little contretemps with the Bone Brigade, firing on them and causing more holes in their wormy hull. The Bone Brigade in turn did their best to fight the Gnomes of Battenberg, killing more crew than they did damage.

Stahlheim’s Imperial Ram avoided direct confrontation and chugged up the starboard flank, turning sharply to bring on an engagement with Bone Brigade.

Crowded below decks on the Imperial Ram of Stahlheim

Some long range shots were fired but it didn’t deter the fight between the Bone Brigade and the Gnomes; boarding and counter boarding was attempted, decimating both crews. Neither the Gnomes nor the Skeletons of the Brigade enjoyed the experience, as the counter-boarding by the Gnomes broke off and they ran back to their ships, leaving two gnomes on the Bone Brigade Galley behind them. Presumably, to a fate worse than unDeath.

The Siege Machine Chugged onward to inevitable confrontation with the Ram of Stahlheim, and for the first time in the engagement deployed the fearsome Big Bopper ramming weapon to moderate effect.

Machen mit der Gross-Bopper!

Through a chain of circumstance mostly brought on by reckless over-gearing and stressing their steam engine, the Gnomes then had a critical overload in the engine dept, instantly annihilating their craft.  You just don’t get a better result than that, and even the kid who rolled 12 on the critical hit table (exploding his boat) recognized the Ragnarok-style entertainment of the moment– especially as he had an action card that stated “from Hell’s heart I stab at thee”.. which was perfect for this moment– it almost took out the ship next to it..

The Iron Dwarves with Mortar and Spotter rowboat steam out to engage the Sea Elves. Beyond the Sea Elves are the Dread Rot Pyrates on the Stinkwater.

The Iron Dwarves fought a somewhat isolated battle with the Sea Elves and the Dread Rot Pyrates at the far end of the battlefield. The Pyrates did what they could do which was mostly gun fire. The Sea Elves actually got involved in a boarding action (on the receiving end) after taking a lot of casualties.

Chaaaarge! into the Sea Elves!

That was quite late in the game, and good news for the Dwarves. The Elves tried to ram the dwarves and missed… sliding along the edge of the Red Menace and setting up boarding conditions perfectly.

Meanwhile, the O.R.C. player had deployed his Revolutionary Martyr rafts with their hand held spar torpedoes. The rafts sailed up to the Cult of F’Vah player and torpedoed the Foot, blowing themselves to mist in the process.

In Response, the Cultists summoned the Squid God.  In the background, the Primus fires on the Gnomes and the Black Galley sails by, peppering them with arrows.

The Cultists Summoned the Squid God (for free, using their card). It did lots of damage to the O.R.C. ship, but it was still afloat and pouring iron into the Foot. The Cultists can continue to summon the Squid God for 2 Magic Points per turn until they are depleted, but at that point they have to start sacrificing crew to bring their Magic Points back up again. The Cultist player was undeterred (perhaps some of the beers helped his belicose attitude) and consigned one of his crew to the altar of sacrifice with a casual “Ah, there’s plenty more where he came from…”.

About this time, we had to pull the plug for time reasons. I performed the new victory point calculations. Did anyone sink a ship? 5 points. 2 ships? 10 points. 3 ships? nobody sank 3 ships. How much damage have you taken? Who has the least? 3 point bonus. Did anyone perform a successful boarding? 5 points. How many Shining Moment Coins are left? Add them in to the total on a 1 for 1 point basis. Our victor was the reluctant Cultists of F’Vah (Player: Scott Landis), who was doing everything in his power (including donating coins!) to give the victory to one of the younger players, which just made him even more nice. 😀

Summary: I got a little rattled by the truncated setup due to the table fiasco, which was too bad because setup is important in BDB. I think we all recovered nicely. I had a great time playing it and I think the players had a great time too.

Game Two, Saturday 1400 to 1600 (approximately)

The Great Big Diabolical Dukeroo!
Distelfink (apparently on the table we were assigned)
Rules: The Magi (home rules)

In the long years since the disappearance of Graros the Unspeakable, your standard Vanished Evil Dark Lord that seems to be in every one of these stories, there have been many promising characters to step into his wormy shoes. The semi-annual Wizard’s Duel attracts many aspirants to leadership. Will you survive to become top wizardly dog? Oh, we’ll see.. We’ll see (evil laugh). Rules are “The Magi”, a miniatures variant of a very old postal game called Waving Hands, a game of casting spells with hand gestures. In this game, players will ALSO be using hand gestures to cast spells that do various things good or bad. Can you fire off that Lightning Bolt before your opponent casts an Impervious Shield? Was that a Shield spell, or does the Caster have Saint Vitus’ Dance? It’s all in the hands…
Simple rules, Children welcome (though 12 and under I’d wish to have a parent playing too).

THE MAGI debuted at Summer Camp, August 2013. It was a huge hit with children.

Essentially, this is a wizard’s duel game where movement and combat are standardized and the focus is on casting spells. Dice are not used. Instead, the wizard players use HAND GESTURES which are dealt to each of them on cards. The player builds the spell in front of himself, and casts it when it’s ready. At all times you have to to keep close track of what the other players are doing and when they do it, as well as keep something building and up your sleeve at all times. This game started as WAVING HANDS (a pencil and paper postal game) in England, and I adapted it (with kind permission from its creator, Richard Bartle) to a miniatures format. I love this game– it’s visual and easy to grasp, yet very challenging. There are three versions of the game I run, based on the audience. I ran the medium version, which requires spell cards to play face up so the opponent can see what the player is creating (or trying to) on the other side of the table.

Rules for everyone fit on index cards so it was astonishingly simple to teach.

Dueling Wizards: Weenus Bitterkins (right) casts a SUMMON SKELETON on Elric Firethrone (left) who responds with a SUMMON OGRE (a far worse monster). Oh Woe!

We had a nice turnout, about six players which is about right. Garrett (my son) played a wizard as part of that group. We ran OCK THE CAVE SHAMAN, WEENUS BITTERKINS, ELRIC FIRETHRONE, SELIM THE MUSSELMAN, SPLENDORA DEATHFIELD, and DOCTOR FATE in this game. I’m contemplating a campaign game of sorts, where frequently reused characters get a small bonus as their “Experience” at the start of the game– the same wizards get chosen so frequently. Essentially they all started on the edges, sidled into the centre, started fighting each other as fast as possible. The thing about this system is to get spell gesture cards put down as quickly as possible. EVEN IF THE OPTIMAL SPELL GESTURE CARDS AREN’T COMING ALONG. Something will work out, there are dozens of spells, and I’m going to add more. Players are slow to pick up on this and spend too much time trying to get the optimal combination. Shorter, tactical spells are often more effective than that Finger of Death you’ve wasted much of the game setting up for your ONE shot spell.

Oh well. It was a blast. Here’s a small slideshow, click on the picture below to see.


So that’s the games I ran. Overall it was a very enjoyable exercise, though BDB could have been a fiasco with the gaming table situation. Fortunately the guy whose spot *I* usurped was cool about it. See you all at COLD WARS 2014!



To quote Joey McGuire, “It’s like Christmas time, but for geeks!”

Might as well say it up front.. the reason for all the “broke image” photobucket tabs is that Photobucket wants more $$ for bandwidth.  Should be better in a few days.

Okay, it was here. As in last weekend. Or this wouldn’t be an After Action Report, would it?

The largest domestic convention dedicated to miniature gaming, HISTORICON, was held this past weekend at the Fredericksburg Convention Center, Fredericksburg, VA. As is my wont and habit I worked staff for this convention, and therefore showed up a day early. This is what I saw and did, with a small audio commentary at the end.


I arrived at about 2PM Wednesday afternoon to the usual bustle and activity at the Convention Center, associated with Con Start up– stuffing envelopes, sorting pre-registration badges, hooking up cables and power leads, double checking table layouts, overseeing the dealer hall load out. We must be getting better at this as it all went rather quickly and the workstations were already (mostly) on line when I got there. Not bad at all. We worked at getting the registration computer sites set up in ticket taking windows at the conference center (which ultimately was a bad idea; more on that later), I grabbed some quick chow at the hotel and got back in time for the pre-con pep talk by Paul Delaney. I’ll say this up front, and with no apple polishing, I like Paul’s style of leadership. He assumes you’re not an idiot, tries to work things out in a reasonable manner with no grandstanding and drama. Exactly the kind of con director we (as an organization) require, and a good guy to work for.

Convention Director meeting

Paul running the Pre-con meeting: “be friendly, be helpful, be respectful”

Nothing much earth shaking to convey at this go around other than there was a change with the woman’s restrooms (we converted a ladies room to a men’s room for the duration of the show, freeing up many stalls for a mostly male crowd). Staff was incredibly thin this convention. I had a hard time believing that so few people volunteered for the Big Show.. it might be the new restrictions that staff people have to be HMGS members, or possibly that many potential staff people lived close enough to Fredericksburg and only did day trips.  The end result was that I wasn’t relieved on time every single day I worked; and that gets old, rather quickly.

Walt is holding a Twinkie in his freckled paw.

Yes, I admit it. I actually had someone attempt to bribe me with a Twinkie Wednesday night. The tragic trut of the matter is that it worked.

Ed behind the ticket window, to my right, Wednesday Night

My partner in crime, Ed, with whom I worked for most of the week. Neither of us liked the ticket window idea.. we had to shout at high volume to be heard and the customers had to shout back. It would be pretty comical, except, well, it wasn’t. Let’s not do this one again.

Me holding up a Twinkies box.

Come on, baby… you KNOW you want it…

I didn’t do any miniatures gaming Wed. night, but did hang out and play boardgames in the Homewood Suites lobby, then went out to the Hobby Lobby to get some quick drying epoxy to conduct some field repairs on two of my Big Danged Boats ships for Thursday evening’s game.

Click on, Gentle Reader, for more Historicon Goodness

The Williamsburg Muster 2013

The Williamsburg Muster for 2013 was held last week at the Holiday Inn Patriot in Williamsburg, VA. This is a local favorite of both mine and my son Garrett– it’s not nearly as overwhelming as the HMGS conventions can be, I know about 50% of the attendees already, and the attitude is what I like in a convention; laid back, friendly, uncomplicated and inclusive.

Sadly I never get there the day ahead of time, because I’m usually taking my son who usually has school to attend that week. So I miss all the fun stuff on Friday. We arrived around noon on Saturday after an uneventful drive down 95 and 64. Oddly enough, Gar immediately met someone HE knows (Bob Watt’s son, they are both on HS Rifle team together). They chattered for a few seconds and then Gar said “Can I have my badge? I want to go play something”. This is new. Usually Gar hangs back and doesn’t engage unless I do; I tell him to find something to get into but usually he is plays whatever I find interesting. I don’t mind, but I don’t want to get in the way of what HE thinks is fun, either. All it took was for him to discover a droog of his own age to convince him. So off they went to play GNOME WARS, which Gar took to like a duck to water.

Gar moving his new Gnomish command around

Assaulting the Fort, Gnome Wars

Gar really enjoyed Gnome Wars.. and I think it was largely due to him being involved with gamers in his peer group or younger. I think he feels constrained sometimes playing something that is likely far less fun but he might be too polite to mention it. Here’s a little in-game color commentary on the assault in progress!

Being somewhat feckless at this point, I was looking for a game to get in that was starting relatively soon. I tried Sean Conlon’s Minimech game. This is a more streamlined variant of FASA’s Battletech which scales down to 6mm.

Minimech Slide Show (Below)

Mini Mech at Williamsburg Muster 13

Sean found another guy to play and we chose equal sides– 2 heavies, 2 mediums and 2 lights.  Unlike in Battletech, the abilities of mechs on both sides are generalized; mine behaved exactly like my opponent’s, so it came down to who maneuvered what where and when.  I set up with two mediums and two heavies West of a River in the Urban area you see in the slide show above.  I tried to put my heavies on overwatch and flank with my mediums and lights.  The lights were pretty useful but deployed on the wrong side of the river (East) to do much good initially.  I got into a scrap with my opponent’s single light mech and tried circling around it with one of my lights and engaging him with the other.  He didnt’ take the bake and retreated across the bridge.  On the West bank, my mediums took some damage but kept side slipping around the enemy until we started running out of space.   I lost a mech and that had me down a bit (which is punishing from an initiative perspective– two turns of taking fire back to back can be devastating in this game).   I got a better feel for the mechanics and started taking more chances and taking advantages of the bottle neck that was growing on the Western flank.  You really have to go all out or have some form of combined attack with these mechanics– if you shoot and run, you are risking overheating (indicated by the red triangle markers in the slideshow above), which can blow you up real good.

With so few forces in the mix it’s hard to “walk off” heat build up unless you retreat into cover for a turn, which is what I did quite a bit, since I was at a numerical disadvantage most of the game.  Toward the end, MiniMech really became exciting, as the piles of flaming wrecks channeled movement and possibilities.  My light mechs made the long trek from the other side of the river and caught the enemy from behind, taking out a light mech.  We also did a number on one of his heavies.  We called the game when my opponent got boxed in and said “at this stage, I wouldn’t come out to engage you and I suspect you wouldn’t engage me either, we’re both down too far.  So we called it, giving him the nod for victory as he had more mechs at the end of the day.  MiniMech is a great little game that has all the elements of the pappa game, Battletech, but it’s a lot faster to play and concentrates totally on the fun stuff– fire, movement, and things that get all ‘splodey.  Tip of the hat to Mr. Sean Conlon for making it and running this game.  His website: Rothgar’s Workshop

Big X-Wing miniatures game in the boardgame room. I would have sat in on this if I could be two places at once!

I checked in with Gar and he was already done with Gnome Wars and working on his second game of the day, BATTLETECH.   This really surprised me quite a bit– Battletech isn’t rocket science by a long shot, but it is still dependent on a combat system that is fairly detailed and uses charts extensively. I didn’t think it would be something a young man with short attention span would like. Yet, there it was. He jumped in with both feet and professed to like it a lot. In fact, when I got done with Mini-Mech and told him I was going to go check in to our hotel and get some dinner, he blithely waved his hand and said “get me something from Wendy’s, dad, I want to finish this”. Hmmm.


Garrett pointing to his mech in the fray. I had to explain to him who the “Black Widows” were.

I didn’t see much of his game but he was very excited about it and even asked to look into getting a starter set from Catalyst Games. I said I’d consider it IF he was still interested a month from now. At 90 bucks a box, I can’t afford to have a bigger gaming dilettante than I am in the house.


Looking across the center of the battlefield.

For the evening’s entertainment I got into a generic Roman Civil War game using WAB. This was run by Clifford Creech and Bob Watts. I was the right flank of a Roman Garrison army which was legionaries and auxilia versus a polyglot of legionaries (rebels) in the center, barbarians on the right flank, and auxilia and cavalry on the left flank facing me. I had a thin streak of cavalry which would have had to fight versus a solid cohort of auxilia cavalry. That wouldn’t do. Either I would move my legionaries against his auxilia infantry and archers (not very effective) or I could use infantry offensively against the cavalry. Fortunately, the enemy cavalry advanced only a single rank towards my position. I moved my entire cohort out and then angled sharply right. Seeing the threat, the formation changed to move right and angle into the gap forming in the center. The center was developing into a big, crunchy, legion on legion battle… with my side having the edge in drilled, armored troops.

This is where the battle was being decided, the flanks.. exciting as they might be, were a sideshow. If a cavalry charge into the flank of our center units did some damage, it might actually rout some of us back at a critical moment. So, it was pretty easy to decide what to do.. Charge right in with my leading infantry unit (just barely) and attack the cavalry regiment as it wheeled away from us. That put them to rout, and they fled back into their lines.

And-a ONE

Angle Right.

And-a TWO…


Nothing gigantic for the casualties, and they rallied next turn, but the big gain was that my rapidly dressing front line of infantry was in a position to interdict ANY large cavalry movement before it could commit to trying to change the center. The rest of the battle on the right flank, was pretty much done. Our left flank was a lot of smoke and clamour as the barbarian horde being used by the rebel army had to charge because of their limitations about being in the visual presence of enemies. They charged and pretty much got ground down into a pulp.

Such Cavalry as I had to start with.

There was not much left for me to do and the center was close to done when I left. Once they launched their SUPER SECRET WEAPON on the rebel army’s butt, the battle was pretty much done!

We did take a break for the raffle, I won nothing as usual.

Check your tickets! Anyone but Walt, that is!

Sunday was pretty thin but the Muster does have their flea market on that day, so I like to stay for Sunday. I found an Orc Fleet from Uncharted Seas, painted, at a decent price. I also picked up a giant foam CTHULHU DICE game at full price, but it was silly enough for me to want it.

We decided we wanted to give Leviathans a try.. I had planned on RUNNING it as an event but had been so ill I just really didn’t feel like investing the time doing more than an out of the box effort.


Garrett and I moved some pieces around the board and took some desultory shots at each other.

French Squadron lines up a shot

Okay, I’m probably going to write a much long piece on this, so stand by for that. However, ahem, Catalyst Game Labs… listen up. You have an exciting, visual idea. You have WONDERFUL miniatures. You have EXCELLENT packaging. Your components are top-notch. You have a great, logically consistent Edwardian Science Fiction universe to play in. You’ve really done your homework… except in one area. These rules are incredibly badly written! They reference stuff that isn’t defined.. they have dense, poorly defined graphics where they choose to use them. The descriptive text really really needs work. We were confused.. and had to work through the introductory battle slowly, one step at a time. We had to guess at the designer’s intent several times. There is no one place where all this stuff is on a single piece of paper, which would have helped. I was disappointed in the rules, but not the ships. I’ll try it again, and if need be, write my own ship to ship combat game.

So that’s pretty much the show for me. I like this one… everything’s very laid back and drama free, which can be a refreshing change. The Muster is certainly my favorite semi-local non-HMGS convention at the moment. I’d like to thank all involved for working their tails off to make a great convention for whomever attended. Well done!

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
Home Page-
Get your free address at

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

Williamsburg Muster Weekend 2012

Gar and I pointed the van southward last Saturday for a visit to the Williamsburg Muster, a great little convention that we’ve become fans of in recent years.  The Muster is a mixed format gaming convention, with heavy representation among boardgamers, roleplayers, and miniature hobbyists.  Unlike HMGS conventions the ODMS (Old Dominion Military Society) doesn’t ostensibly limit the content of cons, so the subjects are all over the place.  The Muster (and the ODMS summer convention, Guns of August) takes place at the Holiday Inn Patriot Center, an aging Holiday Inn on the outskirts of downtown Williamsburg.  The Muster takes up three large rooms, space wise, and about a dozen vendors attend from a variety of areas– mostly game stores, but also some publishers and manufacturers like Lock and Load Games and Thoroughbred Figures.

We arrived around noon of Saturday, experiencing no traffic on the way down.  We had reservations at the local Day’s Inn but didn’t bother checking in immediately.  Instead we went directly to the muster and said hi to some people, and then sleezed our way into a game of SPACE:1889.  Man, I was glad I did!

My Command

My Command, a Wooden Pirate “Kite”

This was a game of SKY GALLEONS OF MARS, done in 25mm using a mix of miniatures and lightweight ships made out of some rigid styrofoam material (apparently) and covered with veneer to look like wood.  Very lightweight and durable stuff.


Garrett’s Russian Ironclad

I played a disreputable pirate, Garrett played a small Ironclad steamer.  Another chap played a Japanese patrol frigate, and young Lindsey and her beau, whom I’ve worked staff with at HMGS conventions, played the roles of A British Aphid class patrol frigate and a slightly more up-gunned Privateer.

The Privateer (left) and the British Aphid (right) with Lindsey to the right

my Pirate Kite in foreground and Gar

I love Frank Chadwick‘s Space: 1889 universe and was an avid player back in the day.  I’ve wanted to play the 25mm scaled Sky Galleons games that I often see on the PEL at HMGS cons but they are never at a good time for me.  I was very pleased to get a slot and thankful that the GM put it on.

The battle was fast and resolved well.  Gar and I signaled a little diplomacy at the outset, which is allowed (and it gives the signalman something to do).  I suggested that Gar fire his machine guns at my kite so that the other players would think we were not allies.  Predictably it did nothing.  Gar fired at the Privateer with some long ranged shots and scored some hits, but didn’t unship the guns or kill a lot of crew.  I took a long ranged shot at the British kite and blew up the biggest gun they had.  This earned me a hard stare from Miss Lindsey.

Sorry, Lindsey. I was just looking for something to do.

Hey, I’m a pirate, not a diplomat, right? So we fired at each other long distance and Gar did the same with the Privateer AND the British. I took an unlucky hull hit which caused me to lose some liftwood, and it dropped me a level. Now I couldn’t shoot UP, and the guys above me had a hard time shooting DOWN. I bided my time and soon enough the Aphid dropped down to my level, as did the Russian. While Gar kept her distracted with brisk fire, I managed to get some grappling lines on that held.


Borders AWAY!!

Sadly, those Jolly Jack Tars were made of stern stuff. And there were more of them after my Marines manfully got shot up on the approach. So the first boarding was repulsed. We went in for another try, all or nothing… and..


Boarding gone awry.

… we got repulsed with heavy casualties. Oh dear. We beat feet to get back on board the Kite at a fortuitous moment. The Japanese were finally in the game and were taking long ranged shots at everyone, which had started a double sized fire on the Aphid. Time to break off and run for it!

“He who fights and runs away…”

Runnnnn Awaaay! We were down to 2 guys, on a shot up kite, but we lived and weren’t captured. Somedays, all you can do is all you can do in the pirate trade.

FOR A SLIDESHOW OF THE ACTION, visit my Photobucket Account. I don’t want to make this AAR too crowded..

The game called at about 3 PM. We did a walk around and poked our noses into some other events, but we needed to get our UNCHARTED SEAS: BATTLE OF THE STEAM PLUME game ready so couldn’t sit down for even a quick game. We went out for some chicken and got the sheets ready. We had planned to go with a laminated card and dry erase approach, but some of the sheets didn’t get printed. So I used the tried and true method of Spartan Games’ fleet composition sheets. I had to hand it to the lady working the front desk, Molli. She believes in customer service. I went online with my Ipad, found the downloadable from the Spartan Games site, downloaded to my Ipad, forwarded to her personal email, and she printed them out on her fax machine. A Gadget enabled happy ending!

There were tons of great games in both big rooms during Saturday. I liked the 1:600 Ironclads CSS Virginia vs. the USS Monitor scenario being run in the main room, but a fellow can’t be in two places at once. It looked fun!

Monitor vs Virginia

Other standouts were constant demonstrations being put on for ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER (Avalon Hill/Multiman Publishing), BATTLE OF WESTEROS (Days of Wonder), Most LOCK AND LOAD games and other fun activities.

The DYSTOPIAN WARS game was very tempting, but naturally it didn’t synch with my schedule, and it went very long..

One of the vendors was running a mix of Battletech game and FIRESTORM ARMADA Demos, and they had some sharp looking stuff out.

Again, tons of fun things to do, not enough time to do ALL of them…

Mark Walker

Mark Walker from Lock and Load Games

Saturday Night, we got our sheets filled out and got back an hour ahead of our start time for the UNCHARTED SEAS game we were throwing for the convention. The scenario was a tad more complex than normal, as I was working with strict alliances (firm between Dragon Lords and Shroud Mages, loosely allied between Iron Dwarves and Men). That meant that there wouldn’t be a lot of chaos and deal brokering. This game would also have more fliers than past games, as the Elves now had an Elder Dragon, the Humans had Da Vinci glider assault launchers, the Dragon Lords had their Naugras, and the Dwarves had their Zeppelin. We made a big effort to pay attention to the DEFENSIVE FIRE, AERIAL ATTACK and DIVING Rules for this game, as everyone had a “death from above” weapon. To further complicate matters, I added a live volcano that randomly spouted a gout of lava, which had the potential for wreaking havoc with the fleets sailing around it.

The map looked roughly like this, not to scale of course.

The Battle of The Steam Plume


A Strong coalition of Allied nations approached the Demon’s Forge Archipelago to force passage for the Colonization fleet moving into the Darnak Cluster.  The Imperials were anxious to set up a strongly defended trading post in the vicinity as the islands had proven to have high concentrations of iron, nickel and sulfur.  Unfortunately, local volcanic activity is high and the straits approaching the proposed landfall are dominated by an active volcano… which should makes things lively for any fleet venturing through the area.

The Battle of the Steam Plumes began with fleets from the Elves, Orcs, Bone Griffons, Dragon Lords, Shroud Mages, Humans and Dwarves on the table, but we quickly pulled the Orcs out (for balance) and then the Bone Griffons and Elves.  The Elves fit in the scenario better than the Bone Griffons, but we didn’t have enough players.  I played the Imperial Human fleet with 1 battleship, 3 cruisers, 6 regular frigates, 4 martyr frigates, and 5 cargo ships whose function was really just as victory points.  In addition, I had two assault glider launcher balloons at my disposal, which were hidden on a cruiser and one of the cargo ships.  The Iron Dwarves were run by my rather loose “Ally” Dewey LaRochelle, who had a Battleship, 3 cruisers, 2 heavy cruisers, 2 submarines, 6 frigates and a zeppelin.  The Dragon Lords (run by a player named Derek)  were more firmly allied with a client fleet, the Shroud Mages (run by Garrett), and they had a battleship, 3 cruisers, 2 Celestial Heavy cruisers, 1 Dragon carrier (that launches two flights of Naugra dragons), and 6 frigates.  The Shroud Mages have a hodgepodge of units, including a battleship, three cruisers, 3 infiltrator destroyers, 6 frigates, and 3 other destroyers.   Of the two opposing fleets, the Shroud Mages hit harder but the Dragon Lords are more versatile.  As you can see in the graphic above the Humans encountered the Mages and the Dwarves encountered the Dragon Lords.  I had the Eagle battleship out in the Van of the attack to bring its devastating broadside to bear.  In no time whatsoever, The Eagle destroyed a Shroud Mage Cruiser and two frigates.  Similarly, the Iron Dwarves conducted a massive frigate attack with combined fire on the Cruiser van of the Dragon Lord fleet, and they started loosing ships immediately.  The Shroud Mages lost another cruiser to gunfire but the Eagle got into a bad spot where she couldn’t retreat to a distance and use her amazing broadside, and she caught a lot of fire.  The Humans lost a cruiser in the counterattack and some frigates.  The Humans brought up the Martyr frigates and they sailed in to another Shroud mage Cruiser squadron.  The explosion did for the cruiser and two frigates, to much rejoicing.  Alas, the Shroud battleship maneuvered into a position to take the stricken Eagle under fire and sank her.  Meanwhile the Dragon Lord Celestials had gone down and the Dwarven Zeppelin was poised to bomb the Dragon Lord Battleship.  The Dragon lords launched the Naugra dragons at the Zeppelin and it went down hard, ripped to shreads by repeated clawing and ripping attacks by the tiny dragons.    That was not enough to stem the tide of victory on the Dwarf side, but it did slow him down a bit.  Meanwhile the Humans tried the best trick in their arsenal, secretly launching one Da Vinci assault wing from  the balloon platform.  The Assault group was 16 crew strong and descended on to the banged up Shroud Mage battleship, wiping out the crew inside.  A substantial prize!

CHAOS! On the Uncharted Seas!

The Dragon Lord fleet was now decimated, but so was the Human fleet, being down to just a cruiser, a few frigates and a collection of valuable cargo ships. The Dwarf fleet steamed (slowly) to support the humans, who captured another cruiser to glider assault. At this point we called it, as an obvious Allied (Human/Dwarf) victory, with an individual victory by Dewey LaRochelle on points.

Things that went well: The Balloon Assault ships. Dwarven Frigates attacking combined. Naugra Dragons. The Shroud Mages have a great Destroyer in the Infiltrator, which is essentially a giant pointed ram. Ramming was the big tactic of the Shroudies, and it worked well. The Humans had to rely on gimmicks, like the Martyrs and the Da Vinci glider assault. Hey, it worked great. The Dwarves had their enormous firepower and armor but lacked speed. This was the game that the Shroud Mages came into their own, and even the Humans impressed me if I do say so, with using their assets wisely– the Battleship pounded from a distance (until it couldn’t maneuver). The cruisers held off and fired from the edges. The Dragon Lords were recently beefed up with some heavy cruisers and I am hoping it will give that fleet greater legs in a long fight. The Volcano surprise was fairly wimpy and didn’t go as planned. We will remedy that for the next time I run it, which will be Cold Wars 2012.

Garrett can be seen in this video example of gunnery combat
, tending to the demise of the Imperial Human Battleship, the Eagle.

Uncharted Seas Combat example, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Dewey LaRochelle took many pictures, all of which can be seen in this slideshow.

Sunday dawned with no major stress. We were out of our hotel (Days Inn downtown) in no time and popped in to the convention again for the morning. We HAD planned to run Ironclads on Sunday but the crowd was minimal and we had been strongly encouraged (let’s say) to get home for some Super Bowl party action. We did have enough to time to sit in on a remake of Circus Maximus (Avalon Hill boardgame) as a large scale miniatures game.

This was a lot of fun– the GM, Cliff Creech, had streamlined the old Circus Maximus game to a one page set of rules. Presentation was excellent and Cliff is a good and patient GM. Sadly, I took a light chariot to see if I could break out of the pack to win in a sprint, and my own son Garrett rammed me to cause wheel damage. The inevitable happened– I risked it, I failed, I flipped. Fortunately I had revenge two turns later when Garrett ALSO risked it, failed and flipped! Bwa ha ha ha haaaaa! For a look at this game, see the smallish slide show on Photobucket.

We hung around and did some last minute shopping before heading North again, and played a few light games, notably my new Pyramids game from Looney Labs and Martian Invaders.

Martian Invaders is a big hit, the way Zombie Dice was a big hit. We played it all weekend long.

So, in conclusion, we both had a wonderful time this year. Thank you, Old Dominion Military Society, for running this great small scale Mid-Atlantic convention. We always have a grand old time at the ODMS cons and we find their philosophy of “no politics, no stress, just fun” to be very agreeable. Definitely a gamer’s convention!!

Related:  Hobby Game Recce: Williamsburg Muster

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TriaDCon 2007 in Pictures and Words

A little late, but better than never – An AAR for TriaDCon 2007

Finally! Wal*Mart found my missing pictures CD. I was hopping mad!

And yes, there were silly hats…

I bought a little disposable camera on the way to the convention on Saturday, having conveniently forgotten my digital one. For some perverse reason, I bought a black and white .. hadn’t taken a b&w picture in years, and thought it might be interesting. Due to getting stuck behind an accident scene and running late, I paid for a garage place, as I figured I’d be there almost all day. I was right. Fortunately, I have switched GMing philosophy from bigass, heavy grandiose concept games like Le Grand Cirque to small, portable, fun games like Gladiator Fighting, and Tavern Brawl games, and Lilliput, and the Tibetan Corpse Racing Olympiad, all of which can be toted up hills in the heat without having a coronary. Parking is an issue with TriaDCon, which was just as sticky this year as last.. however, this time we had signs up, and got the word out well in advance about Parking, what’s free and what’s not, and the risk of ticketing at U-Md. Point taken for next year.

I got to the convention around 930 that day, and the crowd was already quite good, considering a large portion of the floor space was behind a construction curtain, You can see the new “Mongolian Barbecue” construction space on the left in this picture.

and to the right in this one:

As you can see much of the space is taken up with boardgaming of various genres. One element I added this year, as the miniatures scheduler, was the three “Island” tables on the left, above. You can see Hal Dyson’s wonderful AERODROME game in the center of the three “Islands” in the picture above.

I noticed that no matter what was being run on an island table, that guy usually had a full house for players. point taken for next time.

Mr. Goon’s resurgence of the Go teaching opportunity (below) was once again welcomed. I’m not sure if it drew many outside players or not, but I did take the time to bombard many of the local Go email lists for this area, and I think I even emailed the IGF. We definitely had a nice stream of players, so I hope he returns for next year.

One element definitely new to the convention was a roleplaying track. We had (I think) four events and some discussion panels. We were a little light on space for discussions and hosted them in the Gazebo Room. Oddly enough for a first time event, these were a bit of a draw and we had some dedicated players. Point taken for next year.

Here we see Mike running his Serenity Role Playing Game. I’m not a huge RPG fan (not having done much in the genre) but I loved the look and detail of the RPG Mike was running. He did a fine job and his players enjoyed themsleves.

It’s always nice to see Joan and David Wendland of Blood and Cardstock games. She was the silly hats vendor, having gone to the annual Toy Fair and picked up a lot of truly silly hats cheap. Joan is a very talented designer and I sat in on a playtest of her new game in the works called.. something something pie fight. The game is ostensibly about monsters shuffling around and having a pie fight, with magickal pie-flinging spells which tickled my fancy.

Whatever it was called, it was silly, involved pie, and was nicely balanced. Nice job, Joanie!

I ran a gladiator game early in the day, mostly with Curt and Grant Daniels. We had a fourth player, but he wussed on us after one turn because his pals were signaling for him to play Die Macher with them or something. Too violent for a Euro Player, I guess. Hey, who am I to complain, he bought my copy of GALAXY by GMT.

Seems like we had some of that magical marketing Synchronicity left over from WBC and Historicon this year. “The Great Convergence” (wince) was on display at TriaDCon, too! Many wargamers played Euros, many miniatures game players played RPGs and board games.

Some conflict sim fans playing Napoleon’s Triumph, the new Austerlitz block game in the series that began with Bonaparte at Marengo (above).

Games Club of Maryland was there in force and contributed greatly to the success of the convention. I would like to extend our thanks for the wonderful job done by Mr. Keith Levy and all the tournament organizers he assembled for our humble little convention. Thanks, guys.

We made use of the right side foyer more this year than we did last year. We moved registration up there to provide more floor space below on the main floor, and held several events up in the rightside foyer. Above you can see what a nice mixed crowd we had, of all ages. I personally think the OTHER foyer, on the left, may be a loser. People just don’t know it’s there and any event held there was ill attended by HMGS convention standards.

Here was a very interesting game concept being put on by Jonathan Miller. It’s a naval battle between the Bismark and the Prince of Wales, but the focus is not on moving ships and comparing armor to broadside weight. The real game is about keeping the ship afloat after it starts to take damage, and how you allocate damage repair resources. A fascinating game idea that would make a brilliant boardgame.

Bob McDonald ran his somewhat famous FOUR MACGUFFINS game, a pulp adventure/skirmish using the Chain Reaction rules (above). Many thanks, sir, you were tireless at this.

Some Historical and not-so Historical games…

Taladega Nights…

My friend Ben Pecson considers a move at what looks like DBR from this angle..

(Above) The folks from WADBAG start setting up De Bellus Vashingtonium, our annual DBA tournanment. A big thank you to the folks who set this up, you provided a lot of fun for a lot of people for a lot of hours!

(Results here)

DBV is always welcome at TriaDCon, never fear!

Lastly, we did have a bring and buy flea market event, and it was stellar. I sold about 90 dollars worth of games that I wasn’t going to play any more, and promptly spent the money buying NEW stuff…

Free Enterprise at its best

I did run a game on Sunday, Return to Lilliput. Said game is detailed elsewhere.

AAR Summary:

Financially, we did not loose our shirts this year. The convention actually paid for itself, and grew attendance, although not as much as I would like.. maybe only about 20 to 30 above last years’ figures, but that’s not at all bad for a local convention.

Facilities: There were issues with the site location, and many of them aren’t going to be easy to overcome. The big one is parking. Parking is some distance away from the dining facility and drive up access is very limited. We have tried to negate this by being johnny on the spot with handtrucks and the freight elevator. Secondly the facility is not exactly handicap friendly. It’s possible to maneuver around it, but it takes some effort. Some of our game space was taken up with construction this year. We were told they would be finished in time for TriaDCon, but this did not prove to be the case. I don’t sense it had a huge impact on the show. The separation of the far left mezzanine from the rest of the con was a problem, even with signage and helpful people giving directions. It just isn’t a starter. Conversely, adding some miniatures events directly to the main floor was very good for the miniatures games. It’s all about location. The big plusses to the site location is limited free catering that comes with it (free, giant cookies that cost and arm and a leg elsewhere, and soda), and being located next to a nice cafeteria. It’s not the Four Seasons, but its’ better than just about any food I ate at the Eisenhower during Fall In (not knocking that convention, at all, I just don’t like the hotel’s caterer).

Vendors— it would be nice to have more, but really, we are about maxed out on the available space. We appreciate the local support for our Con! We even gave up the reg table to add another one in. At this stage, I’d rather see smaller, local guys like Blood and Cardstock over a mega vendor, but heck, we’ll take what we can get.

Price: We had to pay a little extra for insurance.. and had to cover the cost, so we knocked it up a buck or two. I think our price is a pretty good bargain for a convention held inside the DC Metro area (inside the beltway!). We did offer a few incentives here and there that some people took advantage of (special prices for GMs and Boy Scouts). We can’t afford to give anything away on a massive scale at the moment, but we can at least do the right thing for GMs and scouts.

Staff: Much better this year.. and I mean by LEAPS AND BOUNDS. Many, many thanks to the stalwart lads of the Southern Maryland Partizans, who showed up in force to help schlepp tables, stand a watch at the front desk or flea market, and generally help by being helpful and unfailingly polite and cheerful about it. To give you a good idea of HOW helpful these volunteeers where, we were at the convention until 9 or 10 last year, breaking down tables. We got out by 7 or so this year.

Advertising and ROI: Last year, we were a brand new convention relying on strict word of mouth and postings on the Internet. This year, we tried to put in a much better effort. We placed adverts in Wargames Illustrated, the Historicon and Cold Wars Program books, the NoVaG newsletter, spammed various forums and yahoogroups repeatedly, and dropped fliers in all the stores. We didn’t see a hoarde for our efforts, but we held last year’s numbers easily and have even grown somewhat. At least I can feel that we did what needs to be done in this regard.

In closing, many thanks to the many, many people who contributed their time, effort, volunteerism, and creativity to putting on TriaDCon and contributing so much to its success. This is not just the GMs and Volunteers and the Convention Cabal (the closest thing we have to a board of directors), but also anyone who took the time to attend. We have worked hard to return the concept of a good, old fashioned local convention with a mixed format to the DC region, and we just might be suceeding due to your efforts.

Slaves of the Elephant God: A True Story

Slaves of the Elephant God

A True Story..

As Relayed by one Howard Whitehouse

Contained herein is Howard Whitehouse’s recounting of running SLAVES OF THE ELEPHANT GOD, run Saturday afternoon at HISTORICON. Thank you, Howard, for allowing me to play along, and I thought it was a fantastic game. Such annotations as I have to make are noted in RED font. The notes are at the bottom of the post. My version, such as it is, is contained in the Saturday reporting for HISTORICON 2007, in this post.

Here’s a short, incomplete and confused version of what happened. I am hoping that Walt, Nigel and Bruce can add their own impressions, as I know bugger all about what they were doing —

It’s been a tradition since 2002 (I think) that a group of us– myself plus a varying cast of Table Directors, of whom Bruce Pettipas, Nigel Clarke and Walt O’Hara have been present at most– to run a pulp mega-game at Historicon. The set up has been four tables, each showing a different location, running at the same time. These serve for the first two scenes (possibly with a bit of moving scenery between scenes). The director is free to run his table any way he sees fit, and with any changes or omissions to the rules he likes. In fact, I don’t think Walt knows the rules. 1 It doesn’t matter at all. Each scene lasts 30-45 minutes, so it has to be run at lightning speed, and turn sequence is often ignored by players shouting, pushing in, and doing whatever they like whenever they like. Indeed, I take the chairs away, so nobody can sit and relax during “the take”.

At the end of each scene, the director recounts to all what has happened at his table. Then we resume, some players going to different tables (because they have a plane, or, like Wooster, they are lost), some continuing where they are.

Bruce took the marketplace at Chunderpore, since I’d just built the city for him (cash was involved). Things blew up, elephants ran amok, and Kimball O’Hara’s 2 intelligence agents hunted cultists and vice versa. Was Fu Manchu there? I don’t know.

Nigel is an old jungle hand, so he took a rain forest (where? Malaya? Burma? Burbank?) location. There were local caveman-type aboriginals, a crashed plane and a zombie Amelia Earhart (Nigel just made her up on the spot), and a jungle lord character called, er, Tarzam. Most of the loud fun I heard was the interaction between legendary film-maker Erich Von Schnitzel (Hoochie Coochie Girls of 1935) and his star, the always glamorous Roxy Smothers, filming an “art film” called Naked She-Devil: Temptress of the South Seas. There were lots of shower scenes involved this pair are largely responsible for bringing in the Hayes Code. Nayland Smith of the Burma police was there as well, and possibly LA PI Phillip Marlowe, in trench coat and parked car. And Biggles flew in, because he likes to land his plane in dense jungle.

Walt’s scene involved a lamasery in Tibet. It was loud, and Fu Manchu was definitely present. Indiana Jones, as well. I don’t know what happened. Walt’s GMing philosophy is to get caffeinated and make things up at 100 mph. He’s a genius, actually. 3

There were several sets of Nazis, as is so often the case. I don’t know where they were, mostly. 4

My own scene was on the North-west frontier, where King of the Khyber Rifles, now a Colonel , was played by the same gamer who had portrayed him as a young subaltern the night before in my “Science versus Pluck” game. He came up the same valley to face his old adversary Mahmud Khan, and knocked in the door of the Pathan’s tower just as he had in 1897. They joined forces, however, to face the Nazi menace, and drove off the Hun with excellent shooting and sharp steel. Jeeves and Wooster asked directions, and found there was no BP station anywhere in the vicinity. 5

Okay, so if I’d listened more carefully, I’d know what happened in everyone else’s scene.

In my second scene the Khyber Rifles and those damned Jerries (now reinforced by Zeppelintruppen) went with Mahmud Khan (not a bad chap for a lifelong enemy) to a frontier hillfort where evil, ungodly goings on were offending the decency of the Pathan tribes. A lot of people knew of it, since Phil Marlowe was parked outside, inconspicuous in his 1932 Ford (I can’t find a model for a Plymouth). Well, not as inconspicuous as in LA, but there ya go. I think Roxy Smothers must have had a beef with him, since she immediately ran her Rolls Royce into his parked car. Von Schnitzel started filming. Soviet agents and Nazis began fighting, just because. Nayland Smith arrived in a van, with the eastern dancing girl Karamanieh strapped to the roof. Nobody seemed to think this was odd.

The tribesmen in the fort watched (some taking photos) as the crazy westerners chase done another about, and tried to commit vehicular homicide all over the place. However, the no-nonsense King rammed down the gates (as he seems to, a lot) and the Khyber Rifles stormed in. As did Nayland Smith and his pals, and those sneaky Soviets. But, when the bayoneting was finished and the Zeppelintruppen had rappelled (curses!) into the tower where the cultists weren’t meeting (Ach Du Lieber! Too late again!) it was Zelda the script girl/US treasury agent who was able to drag the cult priest out. Using her chief weapon (her flat and tedious monotone voice) she forced him to tell of a great gathering at the island of Rikki-Tikki where .. under the belching volcano … the cult would bring forth the great Elephant God himself, to wreak destruction (etc etc … the usual stuff).

After a break (in which Hercule Poirot apparently became distracted by something shiny and forgot to come back, for which he later apologized) we had a grand finale under the volcano. All the cultists and Nazis (who had gone beyond a mere anthropological interest by this time) were arraigned at the base of the volcano, with a human sacrifice. A beautiful maiden? Well, no. It was Biggles, the ace British pilot. I have no idea what they were thinking (although, since there is no sex in the Biggles stories, who knows?) 6

Anyway, we ran this at even more breakneck speed than usual, with Nigel running one side of the board, Walt the other and myself taking the middle. People ran about and crashed things. Zeppelintruppen landed on the crater rim. There was fist-fighting up there, with Phil Marlowe. Miss Wonderley tried out for a screen role. The Khyber Rifles shot holes in the zeppelin (imaginary, but hovering over the volcano. Roxy ran off in Biggles plane with Dr Petrie (Nayland Smith’s cohort), giving her a chance to marry a doctor. Lots of cultists were killed. The volcano gave every sign of erupting (which gave warning to players to finish up now or die). Most of the players had the sense to escape as the volcano boomed and the Elephant God itself appeared.

End movie as heroes run for safety and the screen is covered in lava and smoke.

I always end the story by having the players tell what they were trying to do, and how it worked out for them. Mr Guttman (from The Maltese Falcon) reported that, although he was trapped on an island which must sink beneath the waves and cause a tsunami, he still felt there was an opportunity for profitable business here.

The Oscar went to young Michael, a regular these last three or four years, whose heroic portrayal of Short Round (bravely surviving a personal combat with Fu Manchu) was worthy of the award. 7

Notes from the Tibetan Director:

1) Just enough to get by.. I believe you call this the “frantic version” for convention play.
2) No relation.
3) Aw Shucks… just doing muh bit. BTW, the phrase is “Drink a lot of coffee and wait for the magic to happen”
4) The S.S. Expedition to Tibet started at the Lamasery and stayed there in Act 2. The Gestapo started in Tibet and were replaced by Biggles when it became clear I was having a Nazi pile up in tibet. The Bolsheviks, as well, started in Tibet and were sent to Jalallabad. To be replaced by a very confused Jeeves and Bertie.
5) In fact, Bertie drove Algy’s beloved Bentley into a coolie pack full of Nitro Glycerin, which made a very stunning impact on the car’s front end. They debated the moral concept of boosting a handy Ford Model T truck for a solid turn or two before heading out at high speed.
6) Biggles, by the by was sporting a spot-on Gary Cooper accent… which caused for some uninentional hilarity for those who are in the know. Imagine John Wayne playing Raffles, and you get the idea.
7) Michael won this award because of Short Round’s incredible luck in resisisting Fu’s hypnotism (twice) and then having the presence of mind to act hypnotized so he could free Marian from a fate worse than death! Yeah, Michael!!


The Lord of War

Cold Wars Main AAR

Well, the day had come at last, for my last show as CW Director (in name). In truth, I was relieved. It hardly seemed like “my convention” for the last three months, and poor Frank Preziosi had to shoulder quite a burden stepping in to virtually run things as my new job had me working long hours incommunicado. Talk about learning under fire. Frank, your efforts were appreciated. I nosed my truck into the parking lot Thursday morning after picking up the shirts late Wednesday night.

The tables were already setup out front and downstairs. Rich Wright was running around making last minute adjustments. Frank and Mrs. Prez were very competently shooing people about hither and yon as all the little last minute things were getting done. Shirts out and sorted by size, pre-reg shirts pulled for the people who ordered them. Program books arrived on time and addendum being stuff as we speak. Rutherford busy making sure the machines and label makers were working. Our seed money already distributed.

Over at the tennis barn, Neil Schlaffer was honchoing vendors into position with effortless ease. The peg board crew (The Crouches) were busy ratcheting away at assembly points down near the Help and Events desk. It looked like chaos but it all made sense. Things were happening.

I dropped into a pre-convention meeting with the hotel staff and met some of the new faces and names. I was sad that “Big John” the night manager had moved on, as well as Gloria, the front desk lady that made counting out relatively easy. The new folks, including Medium-Sized Carl (Big John’s replacement) and Patty, are quite good at what they do, and very personable.

At six we started taking registrations, selling shirts, and handing out pre-reg. We had some lines but we really handled it efficiently, due to the layout. The homemade stanchions the Preziosis made for FALL IN came in very handy for line control.

The Flea Market and Tournament area were laid out in an unusual configuration for COLD WARS but I approved it. Traffic was great and for once, ALL PARTIES WERE HAPPY! Hooray! It can be done. I might add, that Bob, Neil, and many tournament luminaries had a meeting at this con and resolved a game plan for HISTORICON that seems to be amicable to all parties. Well done, gentlemen.

Look at that happy Tournament GM!!

I should mention the weather. I was wearing shorts on the way up. By the end of the day I was bundling up– the temperature had taken a plunge. Snow.. and ice! were expected, and the reports were varying everywhere from 2 inches to a foot in places. Oh the joy.

Well, they don’t call it COLD WARS for nothing.

The mood in the bar (for people who had showed up on Thursday) was restrained and pleasant. Chances were we would be stuck here over the weekend, but could you imagine a better place to be stuck (that’s rhetorical). The restraunt and food services department from the Host were not complaining.

Nothing like having a naturally hungry crowd as a captive audience.

Naturally, there was ‘talk’ about the impending referendum at Saturday’s membership meeting. I went to bed (early, for me at a con) at 1 AM.

Friday sprang up but I did not. Somewhere during the night, my nemesis, arthritis, set in.. and I could hardly stand up. My knee joint had locked up during the night and I felt awful. The only meds I take for an attack are ibuprofen and I didn’t even have that. Or even a winter coat and gloves! And it was now icing and sleeting. As you can see, things were NOW looking ominous:

So I hobbled to the reg area, bummed an Aleve and drove over to K-Mart to buy some Ibuprofen, a cheap disposable coat and gloves. Friday’s games were in full swing when I got back around 9. Some of them were vastly impressive. Phil Vevrito’s massive SIEGE OF CARTHAGE was a shoe-in for best thematic game, in my opinion. HMGS President Pete Panzeri had gone out of his way for COLD WARS, both in suggesting Phil as a Guest of Honor and contacting the WOMAN’S ARMY MUSEUM to provide little statues as awards. Thanks, Pete, you done good!

I was very bummed that I could not get my stuff together to run a game on Del Stover’s table on Friday. I had planned on a nice four hour slot to run RED ACTIONS in, but the fact is we had got the game to being about 80% ready for public play but had not had time to complete it. Sorry, Del, didn’t meant to let you down. Thanks for the great work on the newsletter!

WHAT WE PLAYED The entire convention featured many OUTSTANDING games being played Here are but a few..

(For reasons of compatibility, I have to host the slideshow offsite. Click on the Pig’s Head to start the show)

I managed to get in to a game of THE SWORD AND THE FLAME (French Foreign Legion) run by Ed Watts. Details elsewhere.

The best part of an HMGS convention is meeting people in the flesh you only get to talk to on the phone or via email during the course of the year. Some things you don’t WANT to see… of course. Here’s John Camarano, doing his yearly Frodo at the Crack of Doom pose.

I was so annoyed at his hijinks, I banished him and Dewey to the kids table.

Heather’s painting program gang showed up and got right to it on Friday. They are located in the “Lancaster Room” (read: the old Gift Shop). This proved to be a great location. Lots of bright light, and natural light filtering in from the glass walls. Hard to miss, too!

I was impressed by the sheer number of board and card games at this convention. Seems like anywhere there was a free table or little nook in the lobby, there were a gang of gamers playing a Euro, wargame or boardgame of some sort. I event got in at the tail end of a game of ARKHAM HORROR very late Saturday Night with such luminaries as John Drye, Dudley Garidel, Frank Chadwick and Bill Rutherford. I only regret that they wussed out and halted the game early. What a pity! I love Arkham Horror. Apparently the complexity factor really sells this one to wargamers. I also saw another favorite, DESCENT (also from FFG) being run by Mike Lorenzo (Goldwyrm from TMP). There’s never enough time to play EVERYTHING you want at a convention.

Cool Slideshows

I did my bit for wargaming commerce, and in an act unlike me, spent every dime but five bucks for lunch on the way home at the Vendor’s hall. I got (finally!!!) my Japanese Yalu fleet from Outland Games (former Lyzard’s Grin). Some more huge-ass 54mm gladiators (must get around to building a stadia one of these years!). Some buildings for 20mm Red Actions (farmhouse and stone country house). A “Jack the Ripper” tableau and rules kit from Old Glory. Various dits and dots here and there, including some serious poundage from Iron Wind Metals, who were doing my favorite thing, selling old Rals by the pound. Sure wish they would do that with historicals!!!

Saturday dawned with a thick crust of ice on it covered by a light powder. Day trippers were up from the day before, but weekend passes waaaay down. Sigh. What can you do?

I went to the Membership meeting expecting fireworks due to the recent proposal to trim the board of directors down to a certain amount plus three con directors. The proposal, by an HMGS Member, had been withdrawn from the floor via phone call. I was pleased to hear this– we avoided another implosion!! Nominations for the BOD were heard.. and I was very pleased to see Mike Pierce, Gunner Garidel (who did a bang up job as Pre-Registrar for this con and previous Historicons), and John Drye on the ballot. This is a great group of candidates to choose from!!! None of them are particularly political, all of them are hard working and concietionous. Heather Blush was also nominated, and I also think she can do great things– as she has proven. So it will be a hard choice this year!


the rest of the meeting was remarkably civil and pro forma. They got me to painfully stand up and say nice things. During which, I acknowledged the huge debt I had to Frank for helping with this convention, and had HIM read the numbers. He gave a short speech about plans for CW08, and the theme, which is GOLDEN AGE OF PIRACY. Fantastic idea!

At this stage in any convention, it’s all over but the screaming (and count out). So I limped around, trying to be helpful here and there, and staying out of the way of those folks who knew their job. A person, who shall remain nameless, gave me a little topical something for my knee that had it feeling loads better in short order.

I flitted here and there and all seemd to be going well. Saturday afternoon and night was more (and bigger) games, including the awards ceremonies. Phil “Classical Hack” Vevrito won for SIEGE OF CARTHAGE, which deserved it. His report on CW07, and the Siege of Carthage game, is HERE. Much better shot photos of the game, too!

The Peking game got the PELA. Did I mention Ilove those statues? I also presided over the judging of the COLD WARS MILITARY ENGINEERING CHALLENGE,and even built my own contraption. Saturday night, I avoided the bar for once and got in a very interesting game of RUGGED ADVENTURES run by Jeff Simpson and Ed Watts (details elsewhere).

Had a nice (unvirtual) beer, and off to bed.

Sunday dawned and so did the sun, doing its best to melt off two days of ice. Numbers were given, count outs were done, and expenses recorded. I will not have the final report until all the expenses are recorded and paid out, but my SENSE is we did as well as we could with the bad weather. People made an effort to come, as evidenced by the all time high for day passes. And the vendors were happy. those that DID come, spent money (I know I did). I won’t reveal the final totals here as that is the business of the BOD (and we truthfully don’t know all yet).

And so, I nosed my truck into the traffic and headed home after chipping it out of the ice. We had done well. Things had come together in spite of my new job, the weather, and the Host’s always changing construction schedule. I have to thank Frank Preziosi for being a hard worker and virtually the REAL con director from January onward, Neil Schlaffer for the Vendor support, Pat Shields, Sandra & Ann Marie Bennecke, Kathy Higbee at the front desk, Dudley Garidel for the pre-registration work, Richard Wright for the Events management, Jim and the Flea Market gang for one more year’s effort, Heather and the Painting Gang, Geoff Graff for the Cold Wars Military Engineering Challenge and the various other staff members I haven’t mentioned. Your efforts paid off handsomely.

In closing, it’s been a fun four years. Some of them were better than others, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. I will now go back to the many projects I have let linger over the last few years… (grinning).

Other Galleries:

Bill Gray’s AGE OF EAGLES Dennewitz game at CW07

Chris Vaughn from TMP posted a rather comprehensive CW07 photo album on the web. Mostly .45 Caliber Adventures stuff.

Cold Wars AAR 1: Rugged Adventures World War 2

“Yeah, I saw the Lieutenant, hanging from a tree about a mile back”

This one was put on by Jeff Simpson and Ed Watts on Saturday night. Jeff came trying to recruit players (see lousy weather in the general report post). I was happy to oblige as I was looking for a game to get in.

The Rules were RUGGED ADVENTURES, the setting WW2, Western Front, D-Day, during the airborne landing phase. The setup was pretty simple. The players were all American sergeants, leading a squad in from the edge of the board to the other edge. Some of us had some specialists along with like a heavy weapons squad. All seargeants had s “RPG attribute” we had to play off of during the game. My guy (the first sergeant) was a dithering ass that could never make up his mind and so had to spend a lot of time rolling 1D6 to overcome his “fieldcraft” score in Rugged Adventures. Other sergeants, like the one played by Harry Morris, were smart in most things and probably should have been put in charge.

One of the interesting aspects of this game was that EVERY SQUAD possessed imperfect information. We were all working off of a ripped and torn piece of map that was all that was left of the titular dead lieutenant’s map case after he took a mortar round. We had a piece of a tactical map plus some vague instructions about taking a bridge, plus one wider scale Airborne landing map.

The game moved along briskly, the map building itself as we went… and always the feeling that there was a German around every corner… very atmospheric stuff. At one point, a group of 2 US Jeeps drive up and confer with my 1st Sgt. and the other leaders. They are recon units from the 441st Glider regiment. They’ll be happy to scout ahead, they say, and then they zoom off ahead, never to be seen again.


click on here for direct link to the Slideshow hosted at ImageShack

Along the way, My squad encounters some fire as well.. Germans keep popping in, engaging, both sides take a few casulaties, and the Germans bug out. We encounter some Anti-Aircraft prime movers and oddly enough, for once we’re positioned correctly to support each other in the attack. Harry (the smart sergeant) takes out the lead track with bazooka fire, and I jump up and fire up the following track from behind, killing the driver and making the vehicle crash into a tree.

What appeared to be our objective (as small village with a bridge we had to take) was around the corner. we engaged in a sharp firefight with the Germans and both sides were taking casaulties quickly. At this point, Jeff called the game, citing that the game was really about our reactions under fire with imperfect information and an unknown hostile force popping in on either side of us. The game, he said, was based upon the movie A WALK IN THE SUN (1945) which featured an American platoon caught up in an almost identical situation. We didn’t know it, but our sergeant RPG characters were drawn from this movie.

I had a fantastic time, myself, and thought it was a unique and innovative idea for a game.

It’s a small Empire, isn’t it?

Coincidence? You be the judge.

As I was making the rounds thanking people for their participation in Cold Wars 2006, I sent an email off to this guy, the POC for LEGIO XX, generally gushing about the contribution to the event.


His response reminded me that our paths had crossed before:

Took me a while to figure it out, but we’ve met before: you officiated
at Ed S____ and Carol K_____’s wedding almost 15 years back. My wife Jane
and I were their witnesses. Small Empire!

Looking forward to seeing you at Marching Through Time. You’ll enjoy it!



Small empire, indeed. The reference is to the fact that I am an ordained minister, of sorts, and can perform marriages legally in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Ed and Carol, being Marylanders, had to cross the Potomac and conduct the ceremony in my little ratty apartment in Alexandria at the time, with Matthew and Jane along to sign as witnesses on the marriage license. All neat and proper, like.

Glad to see my little college pranks have had lasting beneficial effects!


Confusion and Clarity, Day One Thursday

The alarm clock jangled me back into reality as I rolled over, my gummy eyes opening slowly to reveal a newly redecorated room at the Lancaster Host. For once, there wasn’t a dead horse’s head in the bed with me, and that made my day in advance.

The new refurb rooms (100 of the host total) are very nicely done. For once, I did NOT feel like I was coming off a four day drunk in a cheap hotel in Cleveland. But it’s early yet. I usually am up at a con I’m running at least a night in advance to hit the ground running the next day, and hit the ground running I did!

Going downstairs, I schmoozed the hotel staff a bit and went down to the Expo center to see if the tables had been delivered as promised.

My reaction can be summed up as:



This picture does not do justice to just how desolate the room looked Thursday morning. The allegedly highbrow wine vendors that had been there the night before made wargamers look like the Salvation Army. What a pighole.

Neil showed up and we started unshipping the tables which in a large pile in one corner. I was not very hopeful about the state of my lower back, but help was quick to arrive. And by 10AM, the folks assigned to setup showed mercifully with a forklift.

It took several hours of vacuuming to soak up the wine spooge.

Miracles happen, and we had the place open for vendors to set up roughly on time. First hurdle overcame.

My day was made when I came back upstairs and had to sign for the delivery of the convention booklet. That was one operation that went very smoothly this year, and I think it was Mitch Osborne’s best work yet. Yeehaw! Second hurdle overcome.

Next, we put out those t-shirts out.. the con staff was arriving and searching for productive tasks. This year, they didn’t screw up the order and we had as many 3X shirts as I asked for. Bingo… Third hurdle overcome.

I met with the Hotel Staff around 1 PM, and ironed out several issues. As always, the Host staff is a professional outfit very willing to accomodate just about anything we can come up with. No big issues and a very amicable meeting with mutual respect and candor being the highlight of the event. I tell the new GM of the hotel:

“We are a very simple lot. Pay attention to four things:

1) Set up our tables on time.
2) Facilitate settin gup the dealer hall
3) Have copious amounts of food for sale, and
4) Triple order the beer… and I guarentee you’ll make a lot of money off of this show”

He seemed pleased.

Several trips to Staples to get supplies later, we opened our doors to the evening rush around 6PM. It was quite a mob scene and we raked it in for a while.

We are already almost sold out of tshirts. So there, tie-dye haters!

Things started slowing down around 8PM, so we decided to shut the doors. Here, Dan “The Iron Man” Niedwick (who logged a heck of a lot of hours volunteering) amuses himself by breaking his cameraphone taking my picture.

You could cut the tension with a knife. That’s Pre-Registrar Frank Preziosi and Kathy Higbee (events) trying to avoid paperwork.

And here’s the Cold Wars Mascot…

Good night, all, and we’ll have more tomorrow. Off to do what CDs do best, schmoozing and drinking and some telling of lies.



Hey, that’s my Brain!

C’mon kids, let’s play a game!!!

Aw daaaaaaaaad….. I want to hang with my pool homies!

Gar at the pool

Annnnnne! Come on over, we’re playing a game!

(glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub glub)


C’mon it will be fun….

(Sigh) Okay dad, what’s the game???

It’s called LORD OF THE FRIES: DELUXE COLOR EDITION, by Cheapass Games….

Snicker. Dad said “Ass”, Dad said “Ass”, “Daaaaad saaaaid Aaaaaasss”, “Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass”.. “GARRETT!!! Put a cork in it!”

Anyway, the rules are here. The game is a pretty simple “tile matching game”, sometimes called a “trick-taking game” by the grownups, similar to games we like, like Vampire and Zirkus Flocati. The trick here is to “Fill Orders” from the “Menu Cards”. In this game, we’re selecting the “Friedays Regular Menu” from the rule book, which allows for special orders. There are many other menus available, but we’ll use this one. Okay?

Lord of the Fries Components

Cool! We like Vampire. How do we play???

First, we shuffle, and divide the deck up among the three of us.

We’re using the “Friedays” menu with the special order options, remember?

THEN: we check the SECTOR on our menu, using a 1D6 borrowed from Annie’s extensive dice collection:

THEN: we figure out the menu item by a second die roll:

In THIS CASE, it was fairly simple.. the Zone 1, Number 3 item: Cod Piece. Since Annie got all the Fish cards, she wins this handily…

Note: In our game, we streamlined gameplay somewhat for the kids’ sake. In the published rules, you can ROLL FOR A MENU (you have to at start of the game, but it’s optional thereafter), or you can CALL A MENU ITEM from the same menu for the person to your left (see, if you know they are low on Squids or Berry pie or something, you can get them to give away their cards by giving them something very hard to fill that’s really the essence of the game… In OUR kid-friendly version, we just had the current player ROLL FOR A MENU ITEM for the person immediately to their left. Not remotely as cut-throat, but it was a teaching game, so we took it easy.

Dad gloats over a simple point combo.. a COWABUNGA, I believe…

Annie justifiably gloats over HER combination, which was a real point-getter, using every kind of card in the deck in multiples. Since she had THE ONLY BERRY PIE CARD in the entire deck, this order could only be filled once…

By the time the easy combos had all been used up, the game was getting repetitive… none of us could fill an order, and the same extra cheese card got passed around continuously..

So we made a new rule up. If we went around the table TWO TIMES IN A ROW without anyone scoring, the game was called. This happened… the score was tallied and…


became Lord of the Fries (whatever that means…)

Final scoring:

Dad: 57
Anne: 48
Garrett: 26

the kids actually like this game quite a bit and have declared it an official keeper.