Category Archives: Miniatures

Road Warrior / White Line Fever 1.2 Revision


rwrulescover

A quick note– I’ve revised WHITE LINE FEVER (the expanded version of Eric Goodlater’s ROAD WARRIOR rules).  The Fire Combat Table was lacking to hit numbers after the range numbers.. that’s fixed  I also added some ideas for Mortars and Recoiless Rifles, and redid the damage table to include them.

You can find it on the DIGITAL RULES page  See the tab above.  It’s rather prominent.

Road Warrior/WLF Car Conversions Part 2, the Wrath of Helltruck!


Here is part two (of two) in a series on converting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars into Post-Apocalyptic Engines of Destruction (or delight).  The first post was here, and preamble post here.

Up front I’ll mention with a few exceptions*, this might be all I’m going to do.  Post Apocalyptic diecast conversions are, for some reason, a very pleasurable pastime and I don’t want a suitcase of these these things, just about 40 plus will do nicely.  That should cover both a very small group going through cars at a phenomenal rate (the rules are very unforgiving, I might point out) or a HUGE group of players.

1. Helltruck

Start with a cute, pristine Matchbox Super King line Tanker truck.  I bought two of them off of Ebay.

Shell super king tanker before conversions.

These can be had for about 11 dollars or so. I have two.

Matchbox Super King series trucks are humongous by Matchbox standards, yet still in scale.

Enter HELLTRUCK.

HellTruck was converted by adding side door armor to the side doors (steel and rust paint), with eye slits cut out. I did a mesh armor windshield with bloodstains. Topped it off with turret Machine gun. Painted all a base brick red color then built up with success coats of rust washing on exposed metal, a filth wash (light brown) and a grim wash (thin black). The result looks like a truck that has been rolling down that apocalyptic highway. The tanker payload was a little more challenging. I built up a cage frame out of styrene I beams and L beams all the way around the tank. This provides a metal “frame” that keeps the cage away from the rig itself, much like the rocket cages on today’s Army convoy vehicles, and largely for the same reason– to reduce a rocket attack.. possibly. I gave the tank an overall mud color base coat and eliminated the Shell decals. The built up a paint job of thin black grime, LOTS of dirt, and rust on the cage material, frame and the big metal rear armor. For finishing touches I added a little plate metal cupola up top (with some infantry figures for scale) for the HellTruck defense team to fire from, plus a big rear armor slab with the Anarchy symbol on it.

HellTruck, More shots

I’m rather proud of this conversion, so bear with me while I show it off.

Helltruck, rear view (note big red Anarchy symbol/aiming point). Primed figures in cupola to show sense of scale, which is roughly 20mm.

Front view of Helltruck (R) next to what it got built up from, a Shell Super King Tanker (L).

Front shot, showing cage windshield and left door armor with improvised vision slit. Hard to see against the reddish background, but I painted a thin trickle of blood seeping out of the screen armor on the passenger side. Bad luck for somebody.

Helltruck is shown with some vehicles next to it, in a possible reflection of future combat. In this instance, the vehicles are from the Technicals tribe (mostly pickups with crew in the back firing mounted weapons). Figures added for scale. Note the Volkswagen Transporter van (a nod to Nancy Ott), a recent addition, flame thrower and side cage armor added, plus I added a platform to have figures fire out of the roof, Technicals style.

Two harpoon cannon equipped Technicals (Dodge Pickup, bottom left, Ford 150 top right) attempt to fire harpoons into truck tires. Ford 150 (bottom right) fires mounted light MG against the cab. The VW Transporter (top left) has a flamethrower with finite shots in it, so it is waiting to get closer to the cab to fire, but the crew member (unpainted, primed) is firing a pistol up versus the crew in the cupola.
At this angle, the crew up in the cupola could fire sidearms and rifles or crossbows down at the Tehnicals, but the turret MG on the front cab would not have the angle to fire back. Good for the Technicals, baaaad for Helltruck.

2. The Dune Buggy Tribe

This is a group of very lightly armored vehicles with few mounted weapons. Mostly cage armor. They engage by harassing fire with side arms or rifles. They are fragile but very fast and have bonuses for rugged terrain.

Dune buggy tribe.

Tribe cars are: MB Dune Buggy 2006, HW Roll Cage, Sahara Sweeper (foreground, heavily modded), Sahara Survivor, and a single Sting Rod II to provide some heavy weapon support.

3. The Fetish Car Design Gang

This is my catchall category for (mostly) Hot Wheels cars that are designed for visual impact and often don’t make a lick of sense in any real world context. These are goofy concepts like a car designed like a skeleton or scorpion, or a car with four jet engines back to back (a design one might imagine would blow up in the first minute of operation) Still, once they paint up they look pretty great!

Not all of these went the rusty/dirty metal route.. I just loved the lime green paint job on the art deco coupe (left) that I had to retain it, just dull it down a lot, with 3 coats of matte varnish and a dirt wash. I also added a gatling cannon.

Fetish Car Gang consists of: HW Shell Shock, HW Pirahna Terror
, HW Scorpedo, HW Tomb Up, HW Skull Crusher, HW Solar Reflex, and I don’t recall the name of the green car.

Notes– most of these came from a “Fright cars” five pack. They look ridiculous in bright colors but look just alien and tribal enough covered with dirt and rust. The Shell Shock is painted up as a fire starter car, with two “big guns” remodeled as fire throwers. Also added a MG on the roof, plus hatch. I put screen armor all over the “Solar Panel” on the Solar Reflex. The rest are pretty self explanatory– I put a harpoon gun on the Skull Crusher.

4. Muscle Cars/Factory Cars Tribe

These are cars that actually look like, well, CARS.. readily identifiable. I didn’t upgun these very much because the idea was to have the standard automobile underneath be readily identifiable.

Muscle car heaven

Note: Conversions are minimal here. Flat base coats, lots of screen mesh armor and maybe a MG here or there, but for the most part these look familiar and are painted that way..

5. Odds and Ends

Not sure what I’m going to do with these yet. The copter I have plans for, as I will mount it on a flight stand (same for the projected Gyrocopter, too)

* What’s left?

  • I have a 50s era Checker cab, painted like a Checker cab, en route. Hard to find with the original checker stripe– nothing else will do. This will be converted to “Hell Cab” with a gatling gun and some up-armor.
  • I have plans to acquire a postal vehicle, just for the “Disgruntled Postal employee” visual joke. Hard to find at a reasonable price.
  • I just won a Kettenkrad and Schwimwagon on ebay, I will assemble and add those.
  • Others– we haven’t even touched Motorcycles yet. I have to have at least ten of those. Or the gyrocopter.

Next post will probably be on motorcycles, pedestrian figures and terrain conversions.   Ciao!

Car Conversions for Road Warrior/White Line Fever, part 1


This is the first of probably two posts on actual car conversions I have done to support the upcoming WHITE LINE FEVER game, which I will run at HISTORICON and the Summer camp I run.  Also read the “Preamble” post on this topic from a couple weeks ago.

I’ve had a lot of fun working on these vehicles– there’s something about gleaming neon colored Hot Wheels cars being converted into rusty, filthy, post-apocalyptic death machines that is deeply satisfying. I’ve got about 40+ cars mostly done. I am waiting a few more cars to arrive in the mail and then I’m holding off on converting more, unless I find a vehicle that is crying for conversion!  I will be concentrating on painting up a few pedestrian gangs next and some terrain after I finish with all of the vehicles. The next post will have more groups of cars and the two tanker trucks I am painting up now. I am grouping these by broad categories– from the mundane and easily recognizable to the oddball conversion to the rather fetishistic cars that Hot Wheels has produced in the last five years or so.

Group 1: Food and TV

The Food and TV collection

These are cars with high recognition factor from popular culture with minimal conversions required. I want the original design to be noticeable and not painted over– so I brushed on a matte varnish, added a few additions, and generally “filthed them all up” with a dry brush to make them all grimy and dirty, but still instantly recognizable. From bottom left, clockwise:

Notes: The Sushi Truck was the most complex conversion of this lot. I added a metal side door out of styrene, a fencing cage over the open service window,  and an armored rear door in the back. I generally “filthed it up” with painted mud and dry brush plus some rust on the “iron plate”. The Mystery Machine got an armored plate up top (this will be a weapons platform) plus I opaqued the windows and added a lot of dirt. The Love Bug was left pretty much as is, just made highly dirty, and finally the Weinermobile got a light machine gun, dirtied up all over, a new hatch plate on top, and cage armor around the bottom.

Group 2: Oddball car conversions

This is a group that used cars that were very futuristic and somewhat impractical looking, all from Hot Wheels.  Many of their diecast creations have been blatantly weird in recent years. Their common characteristic is being long and lean with gigantic tires and big engines. MOST of these were minimal conversions, painted a characteristic flat metal and then heavily rusted. Surprisingly, once I had made that minimal amount of painting, they really are quite evil and bad-ass looking.

The Oddball Conversion collection

Clockwise from Top Left:

  • HW 2009 Carbonator
  • HW 2009 Fast Fortress (Design series– purple and orange)
  • HW 2009 Tread Air from 2012 “Code Cars” collection
  • HW, not sure of this one, can’t make out the model name
  • HW, again, not sure of this one.
  • HW 2008 Duel Fueler
  • HW 2009 RD-10

Notes: Of this group, The Carbonator got the soda bottle faring removed, then a new cockpit and Stan Johansen gunshield added, also a grenade launcher.   The soda bottle looked silly, but the rocket with a chair up front looks wicked.  The Fast Fortress was just repainted and distressed.  I couldn’t figure out what to do with the Tread Air, so I just gave it a post-Apocalyptic makeover.  The unidentified car had new body pieces added because of the awkward “all window” front end, then painted them gun metal and rusted them up, plus added a machine gun.  The other vehicle to its left was painted gunmetal and rusted up, with a piece of fence added to the top– it’s a cool looking vehicle, very old fashioned, but not much I could do with it in terms of armor or weapons.  The Duel Fueler is very weird– huge flaring nodules on either side but not any decent mounting points for a weapon, so I just added a platform in the center and might just put a human survivor in there to leap on other vehicles.  The RD-10 is an old model– I just dirtied it up and added a small platform for a small turret from Stan Johansen miniatures and am painting it as a laser weapon.  

Group 3: The Technicals

A “Technical” is a pickup truck, with minor modifications,  with a large AT Missile or MG mounted on the back, giving an insurgent side a very cheap and expendable response to light armor.  They are common in Middle Eastern countries.  My approach was to add a standing crewman firing a weapon to the back of the vehicle, and adding Stan Johansen’s harpoon guns, for the entertainment factor.

The Technicals, Ford F-150 on left not finished yet.

There were pretty easy.  I added some grill work/fencing on the bed of the trucks to steady the harpoon weapon and to elevate the firing figure.  On the larger (red) technical I added a large armor plate upright bolted to the back of the truckbed.  The trucks are armored with a mixture of welded on plate pieces here and there (such as the driver’s door) and on the hood and roof.  Liberal use of the grill armor contributed to the protection of the driver. From Top, Clockwise

Notes: See the comments above.  Pretty simple conversions — I repainted the 2009 Ford F-150 to be a duller red color, then filthed it and rusted it up.  

Group 4: “The Man”

When you’re fighting against the forces of Apocalypse, you need to have some defenders of the status quo around.. the odd local police unit still functioning, or old National Guard units, or SWAT vehicle, or hard core survivalists.  This group encompasses that kind of vehicle.

The “Man” (Law and order) collection

Most of these came from a Matchbox military vehicles value pack, so they are somewhat similarly weathered and armored.   I wanted vehicles that are grimy, but well cared for, and still functional– though showing signs they will fall apart from lack of spare parts eventually. From Bottom Left, Clockwise:

This group was the first vehicles I converted– mostly by recoloring the too-bright paint jobs with a flat armory spray paint (Olive, Burnt Red, Muddy Brown, Khaki) and then adding bits of cage/fence armor here and there.   The Sentinel Limo is a very cool police car model designed by noted futurist Syd mead for Hot Wheels about a decade ago.  I wanted to retain the markings so I just matte varnished it and added lots of mud colored dry brush to show wear and tear.   The Hot Wheels HMMV didn’t come with a weapon and was just slightly smaller than the Matchbox version, and lacked its detail.  I added a hatch up top (rusted) and a TOW missile launcher so it would match the Matchbox version.  Olive drab undercoat to cover the horrid lime green paint job) and lots of weathering.  I painted the Jungle Crawler to look like a survivalist vehicle of some sort– all dark red undercoat plus improvised cage armor and lots of muck and grime– and a turret MG from Stan Johansen.  The Armored Response Vehicle– I wanted it to look like a specialist vehicle of some sort so I made it a desert khaki with an open MG turret up top, manned with a gunner.   The International MXT didn’t have many good gun mount points so I added a little grenade launcher up front in front of the hatch (from Stan Johansen).  Brown base with highlights and weathering.  The SWAT Truck is still a project to work on — the version I found was bright silver(!) and so I converted it to flat gunmetal/rust and I’m going to add some blue highlights.. to represent oxidized blue police paint that has worn off.  I also added a MG to the roof and a hatch cover up top.  The Hummer with a gun was easy enough, I just lightened the Olive tone and weathered it a lot, and gunmetalled the TOW Launcher. And that’s the first bunch.  I have a few more posts to go with this project– so stay tuned.  Paints came from a variety of sources.  The matchboxes and hot wheels were all very affordable, bought in five-packs mostly.  Added on armor was styrene plastic sheeting.  The grill work (fencing) armor was from a needlepoint plastic grill bought from an arts store.  ALL weapons added on came from Stan Johansen’s ROAD WARRIOR LINE, vehicle weapon packs.

Stay tuned for more automotive mayhem.

Expanded Road Warrior Rules now as an EPUB in Digital Rules section


As part of the WHITE LINE FEVER project, which entails producing a post-apocalyptic Road Battle game in the spirit of ROAD WARRIOR and the upcoming FURY ROAD movies, I am using a set of rules written by Eric Goodlater that I have played at a few HMGS conventions (Fall IN! 14 and Cold Wars 15).   I liked the ease, and more importantly the SPEED with which they depict the finale of ROAD WARRIOR.  Eric was happy to share the rules with me, which showed up as a word file and a scan of a chart done in pencil.  ROAD WARRIOR is a pretty simple rule set heavily influenced by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. skirmish rules.  Being a tinkerer kind of guy, I tinkered with it, and created an epub out of the results, which you can see here.  You can get it from the Digital Rules page. 

White Line Fever car conversions, Preamble


Slideshow of all Road Warrior photos: HERE I have been playing Eric Goodlater’s ROAD WARRIOR rules at the last few conventions.  It’s the kind of game that you play at night with a lot of beer and pretzels nearby, and loud talking.    After the third game I decided I could probably run something like this and started purchasing Hot Wheels and Matchbox.  They are surprisingly cheap and there are manufacturers out there that will gladly sell you armor and weapon add-ons to make your bland kiddie cars turn into highway death machines.  I’ve bought, I think, maybe four bundles of Hot Wheels and some select matchbox packs, and they cost 4 bucks -ish each.  This yielded an amazing amount of useful cars for a Road Warrior style romp in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.  Hot Wheels, in particular, makes some pretty bizarre cars these days, all decked out in neon orange and green colors– and maybe just a tad too fanciful.  However, once you begrime them and turn the bright colors into muddy dusty earth tones, they look very appropriate for post-apocalypse and very interesting to boot.

Click to see closeup. Pre-conversion cars, all from a discount store, all sold in packs of five for four dollars and some change.  First challenge is to get rid of the DayGlo Hot Wheels color schemes.  Check out the bright Lime green HMMV and glow in the dark green windshield on the car next to it.  Or the orange engine of the blue car in the first row.  Right.  That has to go!

I’ve started adding conversion kits from Stan Johansen Miniatures, plus plastic pieces (styrene) and pieces of the gridwork from needlepoint grids.

Vehicles in the foreground came from a Matchbox “military vehicles” set and a Hot Wheels “Horror Cars” set. Even the goofy horror cars start looking tribal when you give them a post-apocalyptic paint job. Click to enlarge

And a few more from the military set and a couple of cherry picked vehicles. That’s the same kind of car as in Mad Max just south of the reddish SUV with a turret up top. Had to have one of those. I gave Max a gatling gun, though.
Click to enbiggen

They look dingier, to be sure, but I’m not remotely finished. I’m going to give everything a big patina of rust and dust, so that means a lot of washes and then dry brushing. Also I have to color the windows/cockpits and add a few color highlights here and there.

An expanded look at what’s been done so far and what remains.
Click to enlarge

I’m not done yet with collecting; I’ve just got the easy stuff you can get from Wal Mart and comparable places in the Value-bundles. I have some specific vehicles I want to get in the game– I have a Nash Rambler on the way, and a Tanker Trailer (of course), and a Gyrocopter, which wasnt’ easy to find. I also would like at least two pickup trucks, a couple of vans and a Mystery Machine (from Scooby Doo), but that has eluded me so far. The next post will be about other Vehicles (including the Oscar Meyer Weiner mobile), the Tanker and any other vehicles I’ve picked up between now and then. I think a psychotic Lunch truck, a postal vehicle and School bus (in scale) need to be added! I’ll run this at Historicon of sure and definitely for game camp.

Relevant Links:  Stan Johansen Miniatures:

  • ROAD WARRIOR accessories and miniatures can help convert regular Hot Wheels and Matchbox into post apocalyptic Road Warrior style vehicles with weapons, armor and turrets.
  • Aberrant Games WARLANDS is a new series of rules set in post-apocalyptic ravaged highways.  The miniatures are nice– they have a Gyrocopter for the tanker chase, and several small dune buggies and motorcycles.
  • And of course, there’s the grandaddy of them all: Car Wars by SJG.

Cold Wars 2015, the very chilly Cold Wars AAR


Cold Wars 2015 happened, at the Lancaster Host hotel in Lancaster, PA, the weekend of 6-8 March 2015.

Cold Wars traditionally runs from Thursday to Sunday, and though I usually go up on Thursday,  the Winter blizzard that dumped on Northern VA that day precluded that notion. Snow was EVERYWHERE and affected EVERYTHING, but fortunately the skies cleared up by Sunday. Friday was a very chilly first day.

Friday morning the worst of the anticipated nightmare journey through hills of slush and snow actually was in Northern VA.  As you can see below, the trip to Lancaster was no headache.

THE VENUE: The Lancaster Host is a venue that HMGS has used for decades now.  The site is old, worn down, the roof leaks, and there are definitely a lot of elements that could be more optimal about using this facility.  On the plus side it’s not an arm and a leg (comparatively speaking) and the management is always willing to negotiate some items and let us have a surprising amount of items for free, so that’s a plus.   I am always surprised to find it still standing, year after year.. I keep hearing rumors that the site is sold and the owners want to tear down the hotel and builds something new.   That event never seems to transpire, for all of the dire warnings, so we work with what we have, year in and year out.

CHECKIN: I had a rare opportunity to actually be a customer on the other side of the computer screen for Cold Wars, and went through registration on Friday morning with zero difficulty.  No lines, no wait, and the biggest delay was saying hi to everyone.   Paul Trani explained that the Host has installed a reserved high speed line to support a series of training events in the Showroom upstairs, and they made it available to us (for registration only, not for casual use) for no extra cost.

ATTENDANCE: The convention was surprisingly well attended after the recent heavy snowstorm.  There were the typical light spots in the program and empty tables everyone always complains about, but many games were well attended– some were a little shy of capacity from time to time but that’s to be expected.  My one big indicator that attendance was decent was the parking lot.  I had to park the Subaru in the boonies the first day, and had to park illegally after going out and comping back again after dinner.

Several events were cancelled (list below) probably due to weather

F-275, S-276. S-303, F-201, S-200, S-199.

EVENTS: The convention program did not vary overmuch from Cold Wars in the last few years– The Flames of War tournament moved  up to the Showroom (and, conicidentally, they raised 600 dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project!).  The WWPD (What Would Patton Do?) podcast team moved their live broadcast up to the Showroom to broadcast from there.  The WWPD team gave away about 2000 dollars worth of Battlefront and Warlord merchandise to the audience, so if you showed up you pretty much got something!  Not being a big fan of Flames of War, I had not really connected with these guys much, but I’m still very impressed with their operation now.  I had opportunity to meet Jon Baber from WWPD and he clued me in about the expansion of the WWPD Network (not just a single ‘cast anymore by a long shot) and the creation of the WWPD network app.  Very impressive stuff.   I have always thought HMGS should do more with podcasts that are complimentary to both parties– I could easily see Meeples and Miniatures showing up (if Neil lived stateside) and possibly the D6 Generation.  Who knows?  All it takes is someone asking.

I only had about half of Friday and all of Saturday for this convention (initially, anyway, my plans did change), so I had resolved to play more and make the most of my time.  The Guidebook app was very helpful here.. my method is basically to check off every possible game I had an interest in, then scanning “My Schedule” as it notified me of games starting on the hour then finding one that had an opening by walking up to the table and asking.

AEROSAN RACING: The very first thing I did after registration was get into a game of Aerosan Racing run by John Lunberg (F-319).  Description: “Take either a Finnish or Russian Aerosan and Win! Your opponents and the natural/supernatural world are out to stop you!”   I had seen this event before and really wanted to play it, but the GM has been running it usually when I was tied up working for staff duties.

A real Aerosan

The Aerosani was primarily a Russian invention– think of it as an Air Boat on skis with a machine gun, really useful for recon purposes during the Winter War.  John Lunberg constructed a 28mm course for the miniature Aerosani that was stocked with both natural obstacles, winter-themed beasts and even supernatural foes such as Animated Snowmen.  The concept was to drive around the course and be the first guy across the “Finnish Line”.   The rules were simple enough, but had a unique feature– if your max speed per turn exceeded current visibility, you could drive off at speed in an odd direction.  This happened to just about everyone in the game at some point.   I had resolved to go balls to the wall for the entire game and to shoot anyone in my way.. which turned out to be a strategy that made for good comedy, but it didn’t win races.  I like John’s approach towards resolving rules problems– “Is it funny? Then I’ll allow it”.. with that in mind, I present my game AAR in the same spirit:

After the Aerosani defeat (I came in second from last, as I said, my reckless behavior was good for comedy but not good for “winning”), I checked out the dealer hall quickly and didn’t buy much of anything except some Road Warrior heavy weapons from Stan Johansen Miniatures. They were shooing us out of there.

Gratuitous Balcony of the HMGS Cold Wars Vendor Hall Area, this one shot by myself, in March of 2015.  Click for more details.

VENDORS: I have to say, I wish the Exhibitor Hall had had more to choose from.  I passed right by the guys with the display cases of the the same stuff they had back when I first started coming to conventions years ago, and went to the vendors that had new things (like Alien Dungeon) or things I was rediscovering (like Stan) or had a broad range appeal (like Old Glory/Blue Moon).  The rest.. ehhh… I only can do so much.  I feel like shopping has become somewhat pro forma these days.  I’m not even a bona fide member of the Cult of the New, really.  I’m just not seeing a lot of vendor support for the lines I like.  I’m not even a manufacturer versus retailer snob.  Sure, I wish more producers would show up to these things but  I don’t mind getting them from a store.  Age of Glory does a fantastic job of servicing the hobby, for instance.   So does On Military Matters and Brigade Games.  How?  Stock rotation, pure and simple.  Nobody is getting energized about anything looking at the same old same old three times a  year.

My plan was to check in to the hotel grab fast food, and then catch Jeff Wasilewski’s excellent Pride and Prejudice/Sharp’s Rifles versus Zombies thing at 7.  Sadly I made the mistake of sitting on the edge of my bed.  My eyes shut for a second, and entropy took over.  When I woke up, it was 730 already.  Sigh!

No worries, I got into a game of SENTINELS OF THE MULTIVERSE with Steve, Art and Todd.

I played in local guy and fellow Novagi Steve Robinson’s Marine Assault game on Saturday morning.  This was great fun, but not my most shining moment as a strategist.  I believe in moving all-out in an assault situation.  The guy who cowers on the beach becomes the target.  Unfortunately, I probably should have been more cautious in my approach, as I leapt over the sea wall only to encounter the fire of three heavy machine guns as a result.  I’m embarassed to say my entire squad was chopped to pieces in one turn.  Oh well, that left me the tracks to run, and I had some fun with them. I should have known better than to go up against some youngsters.. they are lethal dice rollers, every time.

Here’s the SLIDESHOW, not in any order.

Steve won an award for best in show during that time slot! Good for you, Steve!

CANVAS EAGLES: From there, I played in a quick game of Canvas Eagles called “Bomb Off!”  The scenario was a tad contrived– both sides sending Bombers over no-mans-land at the same time- but it did lead to some interesting possibilities.

Getting close to total victory here. The Brit overshoots his target and doesn’t drop bombs; I get him in a deflection shot that carries over in the next turn, where he has to roll a total of 3 reds and 2 blue column damage. So long!

The GM was youngish, but a smart guy who knew his systems pretty well.  I waxed rhapsodic about the BLUE MAX system (from which CANVAS EAGLES is derived) and had to laugh when one of the players commented on the Wings of War miniatures and map being used with Canvas Eagles– “Hey, whatever works, right?  Canvas Eagles is free, the planes are kind of affordable.. I’m not going to spend money on 1:144 scale stuff“.   That sounds like something I might have said 20 years ago, too!  Normally I don’t much like games that require logging movement– it’s really just an audit trail in case someone challenges you about something you did wrong.  So usually they are never even looked at unless someone is bound and determined to derail the game as they figure out where to correct your moves for you.  Still, CE is easy enough, and as the GM points out, free.

There were a lot of good games being run all over– I thought the attendance was far better than anticipated and I don’t know of anyone who set up and packed up for reasons of no players, though I’m not saying it didn’t happen.

The Big Steamboat Game resurfaces. I’ve never played it– the GM gives the places away if you don’t show up on time, so the one time I tried I didn’t get in. Sure looks impressive! Click here to see more games on the flickr site. I should have taken more pictures, but ehhh they will show up in other AARs.

FOOD (AT HOST): I gulped down a rather pathetic Chicken Salad from the Host food vendors for dinner.  I’m losing patience with the Host Catering– the food is the same or worse as ever, there’s zero innovation there and higher prices.  I’d rather not leave the Host during a convention as the parking can be hideous at certain times.  However, I don’t feel like staying for overpriced unhealthy food, either.   I ate at the Salad Bar at Ruby Tuesdays, Panera bread for an egg white sandwich on Sunday, and the Waffle House Saturday.  I just can’t get excited about the same old greasy calorie jammed food from the Host any more.  Besides, it was Lent, dammit!

I had a couple of beers with Dan Murawski and Del Stover Saturday night before going to the Road Warrior Invitational game.  We witnessed something pretty new at HMGS Conventions..

BOOTH BABES! Well, more precisely, Booze Babes, handing out samples of a rather chemically enhanced Apple flavored Crown Royal concoction. Poor girls! I should have warned them what two comely maidens in tight costumes, free booze and come-hither looks might do to this crowd, of THESE KIND OF GUYS…

I will credit them with this– They tried their best to both understand and pretend that we were interesting chaps. The string of 19 year old men following them around like puppies was totally understandable.. the occasional 40 year old man.. well, that was just sad and uncomfortable.

Apple flavored Crown Royal tastes like cough medicine, anyway.

So I’m not sure where I got this wrong, but I was under the impression that the Road Warrior Invitational STARTED at midnight, and I was impressed with myself for showing up a half hour early.  Nope, it ENDS at midnight (or is meant to) and I was about an hour late!   No matter, I grabbed a motorcycle and joined in the mayhem.

ROAD WARRIOR INVITATIONAL!

This is a great game that is kind of convincing me that it’s my favorite pastime at conventions these days.  Eric Goodlander has converted a pack of post-apocalyptic matchbox and hot wheels vehicles to recreate the famous end sequence of the eponymous movie.  This game is a blast, plain and simple.  I was a bad guy last time and a good guy this time and I have been on the winning side both times.

Starting from the back of the pack, just left of center on the cycle. I was surprisingly effective– the bike can drive between wrecks easily and I made my sustain roll almost every turn.

Weaving between the wrecks (bottom center)

That’s the hippy team (Nancy Ott, driver) in the bottom center. They were on the side of all natural 420 goodness.

Nobody was standing on cars, actually– this is just a good representative shot.

I took a metric shit ton of Road Warrior game pictures, actually, and it’s too painful to insert all of them– here’s the slideshow

This is not so much a game as the social hour.  Various players engage in bad jokes, one-upsmanship and schoolboy (and girl) antics.   There might have been a few adult beverages present.  Jim Stanton was in fine voice and bellowed out “THE CHEESE STANDS ALOOOOOOOOONE” at the start of every turn.  I didn’t catch this, but apparently there was some form of bounty on his head, which nobody could claim as the good guys won, again.

The game wasn’t much in doubt after a certain point where the bad guys who were left were not in a position to catch up.  So a good guy victory, which of course Mr. Stanton took credit for.  There was much beer-fueled commentary and badinage afterwards.

Click below to listen to the 100th rendition of the CHEESE STANDS ALONE by Jim Stanton, the winner of Cold Wars Road Warrior Invitational!

Road Warrior: Jim Stanton, driver of the Truck, comments:

Click below for their rendition of ONE TOKE OVER THE LINE

Road Warrior: The Otts (the Hippies) comment:

Very fortunately John Montrie let me crash on an empty bed in his room, so I didn’t have to drive home directly.  The next morning, I hit the dealer’s room early, and ended up buying an armored tank deal from Alien Dungeon for ALL QUIET ON THE MARTIAN FRONT.  I plan on fielding a mixed American/Canadian force so I can add some cool UK vehicles.  I also bought some Blue Moon 15mm infantry for my soldiers.

And from there, homeward.. after breakfast– I wasn’t going to suffer through the Host’s version of a breakfast buffet, so I went farther afield.
A sad postscript as I dropped into to Jenny’s Diner on the way home:

So it goes! In any event, I got home, safe and a little exhausted, the way one does at these things. I had a very good time. Cold Wars 2015 was better attended than I would have guessed (considering the snow) and I think people had a good time at it. Aside from the general observations about food and vendors, I think I noticed the disproportionate number of youngsters there, which was very encouraging. As for myself, I showed up wanting to play games, and I got in FOUR of them so I feel pretty good about the convention. Well done, Frank Preziosi and crew.

Digital Rules: TANK DUEL, a fun team game by Jim Wallman!


After reading LITTLE LAMBENT METEORS last month, I was intrigued enough by the designs of Jim Wallman.  Mr. Wallman is a talented guy, with a sense of whimsy that I really enjoy.  He designs games about most historic eras and scales and on a number of obscure topics (like street riots!).  I like what he does.  You might, as well.  Check out his website. Next on the agenda for an epub conversion is TANK DUEL by Jim Wallman.  This is a fascinating approach to a double blind miniatures game that I really would like to try at my Summer Gaming camp for kids.  Basically, you assign a team of four (or more, or less) players to a single tank model– the Commander, The Gunner, the Driver and the Loader.  Each role has something very specific to do.  Combine that with double-blind sighting mechanics and an emphasis on running the game at breakneck speed.. well, this could be batshit crazy when it gets on the table.  Count me in! Tank Duel is available on Jim’s website for free download as a PDF.  I converted it to epub for about a 50 per cent size reduction.  You can find it on the Digital Rules page in the standard place.  Just click on the cover below. There is also a one sheet reference that outlines what the roles in the game do.  I’ve made this available HERE. copyright-td

Cold Wars 2015 Guidebook App is available for download


Hello, Convention attendees!  Guess, what, it’s that time of year, Cold Wars 2015 is literally around the corner for most of us.   I have, finally, completed a decent first draft of the CW 15 Guidebook App for your convention attending pleasure.  I apologize for being late– I like to have it out at least a month ahead, or close to the PEL release if possible.  I received the loader data and did not notice that every single one of the GAME events loaded in as happening in May 2015.  So I just finished scrubbing the dates on each and every one.  That can slow things down a little.

What’s new?  

Not a lot really.  If you are Guidebook user from shows past the same color scheme holds– blue for tournaments, red for game events, green for seminars, purple for Hobby University.. if I ever get that data.  There’s a much longer and definitive KID FRIENDLY GAME LIST which has it’s own “track” in the schedule.  Look for ORANGE items.

Master Schedule screen with a few newish items added.

Kid Friendly events have this banner:

I’ve also added a local eatery button in the main menu– this is just a list of what I could find using YELP and the Host location with a five mile radius.  It is not definitive, but I hope to make it grow, and who knows, if we can get local restaurants interested in handing out discounts or coupons, maybe we can add those in too.

What’s missing??

The map I got for the Lampeter room has no tables on it.  That’s not the end of the world as the Lampeter holds tournaments and the Flea Market, and nobody really uses that map anyway.  I did not include it to prevent confusion.  If I get a fixed one before the show, look for an update.

I have not received the Dealer Hall layout and listing from Scott Landis yet.  It should be close to final so look for an update with this information before the show.

I have not received a Hobby University update from Heather Blush yet.  Look for an update before the show.

Updates.. how do those happen?

Simple.  Make sure you have Guidebook open and you are connected to the Internet somehow, usually a wireless signal.  The App will check for updates on the server.  If there is one, it will tell you and ask for permission to download.

So where do I get this thing?

HERE is the Cold Wars 2015 Landing page.  The page will have hyperlinks and bar codes to download the Android and IoS versions of Guidebook (the app) and the specific COLD WARS 2015 schedule which I have prepared for you.
HERE is a preview in browser link, so you can see what’s in the schedule.

QR Codes:

For the APP (only)

This will link to the download for Guidebook, the app

For THE COLD WARS GUIDEBOOK

This is the QR code that finds the guidebook schedule for COLD WARS 2015.

Enjoy your app, I hope it’s helpful and I’ll see you at the show.

If I have anything to communicate during the show I’ll use THE INBOX FEATURE on the app itself.

V/R

Walt

Click me to go to the landing page!

Replay: IRA raid on a Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barrack & NOVAG Game Day


NOVAG and Potomac Wargamers hosted their annual Winter Game Day on Sunday 18 January 2015 at The Centreville Library in Centreville, VA.   All games kicked off at 1300, so there wasn’t any chance to play in an earlier game than that.  There were some great choices, but the one that caught my eye was: Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Barrack Raid run by Lance O’Donnell using the Triumph and Tragedy rules set between 1900 and 1939.   These are a set of very tactical rules set in the early 20th century optimized for 20th century rifle ranges.  The scenario being played was two squads (called “Battalions” but really squad sized).  I had two groups of men of about 10 guys each (each with a leader with a pistol) and one Heroic Leader who could set demolitions and throw grenades (he had two).   Even dedicated IRA men are not exactly up to snuff militarily, so my initiative was the worst in the game (except for my hero).  We were also not as skilled as the RIC and Black and Tans were with firearms and other shooty things.   Here’s the scenario description: The local IRA needs to acquire rifles for the independence cause and has been planning to hit a rural Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks.  But the Black and Tans have been interrogating local villagers and have learned of the plot.  Can the IRA grab the rifles or will the Black and Tans get there in time to stop them?

The RIC barracks, Pretty much dead center on the table, next to the road.

Being, erm, descended from a few parties of interest in that conflict, I opted to take the IRA.  The map was simple.  Fields with a road bisecting it laterally.. In the center of the board was a two story structure (The RIC barracks) with a stone fence out back and two doors, front and back, starting the game locked.  The RIC is inside the building and they have been tipped off about the IRA.

My battalions used what improvised cover they could find. No windows in the side of house equals a covered approach.

I started in the upper NW and lower SW quadrant corners, and improvised a covered approach to the objective going as fast as I could. I was assisted in this by some woods in the NW quadrant and both a hedge in the SW quadrant combined with no side windows in the barracks building. The Black and Tans did not enter until Turn 3, which forced the impetus of action upon me.

The Black and Tans enter on Turn 3, giving me roughly five turns of having a numerical advantage (as it took them 3 turns of movement to get into a position to affect the battle).

My tactical plan was to rush to a position where I could be in range, lay down a suppressing fire on both windowed sides of the RIC barracks, blow the black door with demolitions and rush in to club and capture the hopefully very suppressed RIC men.

The RIC Men started spread out over two floors. As they started taking suppression losses, they all clumped together downstairs. A perfect setup for me.

I had to position my men along the stone wall to get some partial cover. Unfortunately the rules are a little hinky– ALL members of the squad had to be touching the wall with their bases or the defensive dice adjustment applies to none of them.. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them all there the first turn so had to take a few losses before we were hiding behind the wall together. We crowded up to the windows as best we could and poured fire into the room.

We fired in from behind the fence, then we rushed the windows and let fly. The Hero is readying his doorbreaking charge.  Meanwhile as you can see, the B&Ts are going to show up soon.

So far the initial plan was working pretty well. We had managed to get the first element behind the stone fence to fire into the barracks and contribute to suppressing the RIC constables. We had only taken one casualty on the approach. The other element had taken advantage of excellent cover to approach the FRONT of the building to pour in suppressing fire on that side. Rather than stay in the street, in the open, to engage the onrushing Black and Tans, I moved them back around to the REAR of the building to serve as the charging force in melee.

Meanwhile my second “battalion” dashed to the FRONT of the house and poured lead in throw the windows. The first floor became a slaughter house.

The second battalion had a chance to get off one fusilade of bullets into the RIC barracks room before they had to run for cover. See the Black and Tans coming down the road at full clip! That’s trouble.

As you can see, the RIC were in for it in a serious way. They lost 3 men and got many points of suppression which limited their odds.

The situation inside the RIC barracks. The RIC contingent was repeatedly sprayed with gunfire from both sides and suffered many hits to their morale after suffering wounding and a couple of kills.

The door blows.. and IN WE GO

The melee went for 2 turns inside before the last RIC Constables went Tango Uniform. Numbers can tell, and this was a situation where he could activate 3 or less and I was attacking him at a dozen people per attack. Having achieved the impossible and captured the RIC barracks, I wanted to try wiping out the Black and Tans.

Melee inside the RIC barracks after the door got blown successfully. That’s my second element charging in there, the ones that had circled around the building after firing in the front windows. Melee lasted two turns; the second to the last guy went down and then the last guy surrendered.

All this gallivanting about was taking up precious time. One thing I could not afford was getting into a prolonged gun battle with the RUC (Black and Tans) as they had better rifle skill, better initiative and higher morale. My best bet was to lure them into a long range shoot ’em up, get them to run up close and toss my two grenades at them. Good plan, half-assed execution.

I was concerned that the RUC would run up to the front door or just fire into the windows of the barracks. After all, my victory conditions had just been met– I had captured the barracks. So I got my first element up against the stone wall and fired a couple of volleys at the Black and Tans. Sure enough the wheeled right and moved to contact, taking casualties as they advanced.

Unfortunately my heroic leader guy was a great demo expert but lousy grenade tosser, and the grenade flew off coordinates.  I do think that made the other player a little cautious however.

Charging in for the finale of the game. I believe I wounded at least two more before he was on the wall charging into melee (over the wall).

Final battle with the Black and Tans.

To speed up the narrative, the Black and Tans speed up the road, disappointed that Squad 2 hadn’t stayed around to be shot at, then deployed in line and shot up Squad 1, safely behind the stone wall. Squad 1 returned fire from where they stood, being somewhat protected. That winnowed the B&Ts dramatically and only 4 guys lived to make it to the wall, then 3… At that point we were in melee and I still had a relatively fresh squad– which had run around the building and was about to launch itself on the remaining B&Ts for a truly epic asymetrical fight. I’ll entertain someone who wants to fight to the death, but in games where it doesn’t seem to be worth it, I always offer an early out rather than commit to playing out something unwinnable. My opponent agreed that it was pretty hopeless for him and we called the game, which was an IRA total victory. I had captured the RIC barracks and either killed, wounded or accepted the surrender of every enemy on the table. I attribute success to moving fast, early, when I had a numerical advantage, not delaying the attack until everything was perfect, and having my two squad elements support each other by each providing suppressing fire into the building. The result was a lot of cohesion hits and some kills (maybe half). My specialist hero worked well setting the demo and blowing the door, but proved inept throwing grenades (I only had to throw one of two). It was a great time, I enjoyed going to NOVAG’s game day and seeing everyone.

OTHER NOVAG EVENTS

Fred Haub’s Medieval Massacre

More Medieval Massacre

Look, there’s Fred now.

Aspern-Essling Day 1 by Eric Freiwald, using Command and Colors Napoleonics.

More Aspern-Essling

Barbarossa company level game, Maciej Zajac. using BOLT ACTION.

More of the same.

Tim ponders his next move

Dennis Wang’s excellent game of Avalon Hill’s AIR FORCE using Ipads, Tablets and Smart Phones. I’ve played this before and really enjoyed it.

Tuscaloosa pensively sets his orders on his smart phone.

The Battle for the Areghendab Bridge – Afghanistan, December 2001 by Mike Byrne. Using FORCE ON FORCE.

More Force on Force

MORE PICTURES TO BE FOUND HERE

Riflemen and Voltigeurs, 54mm scale


For my as yet unnamed single figure Napoleonic skirmish game, I have been painting/having painted several 54mm scale figures.  I’m focusing on light troops, so Riflemen and Light Troops on the English side and Voltigeurs on the French side.  More figures as they become available.  Here’s the latest developments:

54mm Voltigeurs

A group of six Voltigeurs from the ALL THE KINGS MEN line. The figures are somewhat more slender and a teeny bit shorter than other figures I am using, either from ERTL or VICTRIX. I think they’ll be fine. Voltigeurs were French light skirmisher infantry and I think the poses show are just perfect for them.

French Voltigeur COMMAND GROUP of an officer and a bugler. This will be roughly the same function as the British officer and drummer on the other side. Leaders and order transmission are part of the design.

British high commander 54mm

British overall (high) commander. Used for morale recovery mostly. There will be a related French figure as soon as I find a suitable figure.

Rifles Officer 54mm

Rifles Officer 95th Rifles, 54mm. Officers on the field are important to organize troops into a firing line and order volleys. They also transmit higher orders and improve morale. This solitary Rifles officer almost looks uncomfortable among all the the Froggy light infantry.

That’s everything. I’ll try to add a few more pictures of these new troops matched against the existing ERTL and VICTRIX figures to give you an idea of how the new ATKM figures match against them. I now have about 11 voltigeur figures, one mounted officer that will do for a higher command figure for the French, about ten light infantry (British) and 8 rifles (British). I have enough to start testing the design now.

More to come on this project, stay tuned!

What does the Foundry look like?


If you’re involved in historical wargaming at all you probably know who or what the Foundry is.. formerly Wargames Foundry, formerly Guernsey Foundry.  If you’re a Yank like me, you’ve probably got no idea what their headquarter is like.  I know I didn’t before a friend of Bryan Ansell, the founder of Foundry, published this video on Youtube:

Trying out the 3D Virtual Tabletop app


By happenstance I stumbled upon the 3D Virtual Tabletop app via a sidebar ad on RPG.NET– having just gone through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the designer was getting the word out, apparently. I’ve been playing around with mapping tools lately, notably Roll20.net to support role playing games. 3D Virtual Tabletop (3DVT) has some somewhat similar functions from what I can tell. I have not managed to run a game with it yet (see below), so I have only a basic first look understanding of how it works right now.

3D Virtual Tabletop Pricing Screen

First and foremost, 3DVT is a mapping tool for playing tabletop games with. The design clearly was aimed at small scale roleplaying skirmishes, moving character icons over a graphical map layer. It’s pretty simple at the core of it.

3DVT Player and monster icons on top of a dungeon room background layer that I imported

The client, out of the box (as it were) comes with several sample maps from various genres. The ones included in the game were apparently from Legendary Games, a maker of 2D terrain pieces in cardboard, designed for playing fantasy roleplaying games with a flat playing field and grid overlay to snap the figures to.

It was easy to find a few grids on the internetz and add them to the floor layer as objects. I probably could have done the same with new tokens (players) as well, as there are plenty of images out there to use.

Another example of terrain I imported

… and another, a “bridge” tile.

View is isometric by default, but the app can adapt to run a game from straight up looking down:

Much potential for more boardgamey things here….

Account management is handled by Google Sign in or by regular login.

If you DON’T have a subscription, don’t bother. There is no “trial period”.

Maps need to synchronized between players, which is handled by the server piece. To pay for that, you have to SUBSCRIBE, which costs about 9.99 a year, which I think is a very reasonable price, considering the capability you’ll be paying for.

Note that I couldn’t start an actual game, as I haven’t subscribed yet. A “trial period” would have been a nice feature, so I can see what I’m paying 9.99 for, cheap as it is.

The actual “Start a new game with other people” screen, which I couldn’t really take advantage of, as I haven’t subscribed. So I’m not sure what exactly happens next, but there’s some links to example games at the bottom of the page, and they’ll give you a good idea.

So this is as much as I know– I’ve loaded the 3DVT app on both IoS and Android. I’ve imported map tiles and moved figure icons around on it in a very impressive manner. I have not started a game or run a game as a host as that isnt’ a feature I can take advantage of right now. So, shrug.. I can see the potential for this thing, but I wonder how much better it is than Roll20? That application, though mostly browser based, handles everything including the mapping, and even does hidden reveals. 3DVT appears to be an app for just recreating the immediate action in a specific contained place and time. Great for running skirmishes or small tabletop miniature games. I could see this being used for boardgaming as well. Again, the jury is still out as to whether it will kill off RollD20 or not– although it does have one great quality: it runs on an IPad.

I’m cautiously optomistic.. and what the heck, it’s only 10 bucks a year.

3DVT is available from the Google Store, Itunes App Store and Amazon.

LINKS:

 

Wargames Illustrated announces winners of HISTORICON 14 painting contest


Paint Contest Results posted to Wargames Illustrated

Historicon 2013 Show Figure (contestant unknown)

Wargames Illustrated ran a painting contest at HISTORICON 2014 in Fredericksburg, recently concluded. The results are in and they are available for viewing on THIS PAGE.

Many thanks to WI for running this thing, I hope it becomes a standard item in all Historicons going forward.  Read the story for many pictures of other entrants– the paint jobs are stunning eye candy.

HISTORICON 2014 AAR


 

Last weekend, 16-20 July 2014, the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) put on their big convention for the year, HISTORICON. This was an anniversary convention– HISTORICON has existed 30 years, depending on whom you ask. HISTORICON, is as you might guess, primarily a convention for playing games with toy soldiers. It is and has always been historically themed and historical based games are usually encouraged over all others, such as SF and Fantasy.  That doesn’t mean that the latter aren’t represented at the convention, as we will discuss in due course.

Tragically (though we didn’t know it at the time), one of the earliest collaborators who created HISTORICON and was a founder of HMGS itself wasn’t going to attend the 30th Anniversary.  Mr. Bob Coggins, famous to many as the co-creator of Napoleon’s Battles, suddenly passed away Wednesday night as he was getting ready to attend HISTORICON. Sad news indeed, and tragically ironic, considering Bob’s past experience with HISTORICON.

Yes, there WAS an anniversary cake; however, it didn’t cost 6 grand, it was free! (Donation from CostCo)

The facility, the Fredericksburg Convention Center, has worked very hard to address problems with the main hall’s oppressive acoustics. Anyone who ran a game in the main hall in 2012 remembers the ear-splitting din on Saturday night. The hall is essentially a great concrete box, with no sound baffling– thus sound has nowhere to go but up, where it ricochets off the ceiling contributing to very loud crowd sounds. Last year HMGS put up draping and cloth area dividers, which helped a lot. THIS year they managed to get the center to put out cheap carpeting, which helps even more with sound abatement (and tired feet). I conducted no analysis on sound levels (not being equipped to measure it correctly), so I can’t say HOW much better it is, but to use an anecdote to illustrate, I was able to hold a normal conversation with Leo Walsh, the GM of the game I was in, on Saturday night during prime time, and I could hear him just fine even with a 40% hearing loss.  Contrast that with two years ago (no room dividers, not carpet) and I had to speak at a high volume just short of shouting in order to be heard at Howard Whitehouse’s Cairo game (20 + players), and I ended up with an ear splitting headache from the din on a Saturday night.  Good job, FCC.  Oh, and the chairs were very nice and accommodating of a gamer’s generous frame this year.

Carpeting didn’t extend ALL the way across the room, it was a money thing. This is the Flea Market area, Wednesday night setting up

Carpeting: not plush or shag, it kept our feet from getting sore and absorbed the din.

This was a good year for community outreach efforts. The City of Fredericksburg is, from all reports, delighted to have HMGS in place in July, as we fill the place up and have a healthy economic impact on the surrounding area, particularly the area restaurants. We saw some quid pro quo arrangements with Price Club (Free Anniversary cake), Krispy Kreme (free doughnuts) and some other vendors. This kind of arrangement can be invaluable in building up a community that supports a convention, and I think we’re making great strides.

Staff meeting, Wednesday Night

I worked staff for HISTORICON, events desk for four days, early shift, and creating Guidebook, which isn’t a staff job at HISTORICON.

Events were pretty “thin” Thursday, as you can see.

I encountered two consistent issues working the events desk this year: for one thing, people were complaining about just how few games were being put on at this event. Most games were already filled up with pre-registrants before anyone set foot in the convention hall. The remaining history games were snapped up very quickly, leaving a familiar hodgepodge of “history-ish” games (pulp, wild west, VSF, etc.) and lots and lots of Battletech.  So, from my 1000 feet up perch, if your game was historically themed, and you brought it to HISTORICON 2014, and you didn’t get any players– you’ve only got yourself to blame.  It was a Seller’s Market to be sure.  Where were all the History Games??

The Games

I have to fess up here. I was a slacker due to illness in the family and work issues. I just didn’t have my act together to run my game, and spent an inordinate amount of time re-writing a confusing rules section for Friday’s game on Thursday! So I won’t belabor you with 1000 pictures of historical miniatures, but I will mention a few that I thought really did a great job.

My game, THE MAD QUEST FOR THE ORB OF POWER, a Big Danged Boats game, did get run and went off very well indeed.  I’m very happy with how everything worked.  I’ve already posted on this elsewhere; take a ticket (click on the picture below) to view the AAR.

Not bad for a non-historical game run in a somewhat hard to find meeting room at the far end of the Convention Hall! Click me to see the AAR.

The Spectacular Martian Front game run as a demo on the reserved table spaces in Exhibit Hall A.  This game was astonishing eye candy, beautifully executed, and well deserving of a PELA, which I heard it received.  Hey, I certainly was encouraged.   You can see more pictures by clicking the Tripods below.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PICTURES FROM THE MARTIAN FRONT

Duncan MacFarlane ran a visually stunning Battle of Arklow (set in the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798) all weekend long.  He admitted to me it was his first event at a HMGS convention ever.

Click to see more pictures from ARKLOW.

Frank Chadwick’s MARS NEEDS STEAM game (a reworking of his great old Soldier’s Companion rules) looks bat-shit steampunk crazy every year.  I think they went above and beyond with the terrain and vehicles this year.

The centerpiece of MARS NEEDS STEAM. CLICK to see more MNS photographs.

Tim Broome and (I think) Bill Rutherford put on a great D-Day game that focused on British Beaches.  The scale was somewhat attenuated but who cares, it was great fun.

Tim Broome’s award winning game. CLICK THE PICTURE to see about a half a dozen pictures from this event.

It really warmed the cockles of my heart to see this game being set up and included in the schedule. Many years ago, I ran a game series that focused on racing conveyances in a VSF universe. It was called LE GRANDE CIRQUE. It’s heartening to see the younger generation running with a similar idea.

VSF Racing game held Wednesday night and another time during the con, both were times when I couldn’t participate. .Dang it. CLICK THIS IMAGE to see more.

 

Bob Giglio appears to be getting interested in the Phillipine American guerrilla war (post Spanish American war) these days. Beautiful setup as always.

A really great mixed land/naval game apparently in nominal 6mm scale (I think, at least the land portion, the ships are too small) . Click to see more.

The games that were put on were the standard range of wonderful, professional layouts to guys putting felt cloth on the table.   As I’ve stated, there was a fair share of big beautiful alt-history games or history-ish games– more so, I think, than history.  Which could explain why the Mars game won our PELA award.  Why not?  It was well deserved.

PELA Awards

The standard boardgame stuff crept into the convention as well, and the crossover games.   All a good thing, I think.. I think of them as stepping stones.

X-Wing Miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games

I THINK this was an adaption of DAWN PATROL (TSR) in 1:72 scale.

As far as events were concerned, the ones that ran were of a decent quality overall and visually appealing.    There did not seem to be a lot of them, in my opinion.

Saturday, 10 AM. Just saying.

The Other Stuff

The hotel I stayed at, the Hampton Inn, was overall just fine to borderline mediocre.  Nothing at all wrong with it except, perhaps, for the wretched breakfast.  The actual phrase “Wretched Breakfast” dropped by to lodge a complaint that the kitchen was making it look bad.  Still, why whine about a complimentary breakfast?  It was what it was.

The bathrooms in the convention hall were less crowded than the first year, but the floor gets truly disgusting.  I’m not sure what can be done about that.  My friend, “Spastic Joe”, apologizes in advance for next year.

The Weather was the big surprise this year.  Meaning, it was lovely.  Last year, I think it might have crested the 100 degree mark.  That made walking even a short distance outside sheer misery– a gasping, sweaty affair.  This year a recent rainstorm had cooled things down somewhat and the temps hovered in the 70s. For the entire weekend.

Food: I ended up skipping said wretched breakfast after the first day and eating (most days) at Wegmans, which was within an easy, n0n-gasping, non-sweat drenched walking distance.

The Obligatory Wednesday Night Greasy Ball of Death at Five Guys proved to be the most unhealthy thing consumed the entire show. And my innards thanked me later.

Most of my meals were quick affairs as I ate by myself mostly.  Even being in an area with dozens of restaurants within easy distance, it proved to be easy enough to eat healthy or quasi-healthy.

If you’ve been reading along, I did the Guidebook app for this convention, and had excellent support from Mr. Bill Rutherford, Ms. Heather Blush, Mr. Dudley Garidel and Mr. Scott Holder.   About one quarter to one third of the attendees used or downloaded guidebook, and then we went over our “free” threshold so Guidebook (the corporation) froze our downloads at the show by Thursday.  It happens.  So if you tried to download and were denied, that’s what happened.

Exhibitors

To be honest, I didn’t buy much, and what I did buy was fueling my Gaming Camp for Kids I’ll be putting on in a few short weeks.  I was severely tempted by Alien Dungeon’s Mars game.  It’s just so wonderfully well thought out from a visual perspective.  I have no idea how it plays, but the toys, they are special (see above for pictures from the big demo game).

My two favorite places to stop at any HISTORICON is On Military Matters (who appears to not be servicing shows in Virginia) and Belle and Blade.  Belle and Blade had a great selection of newer films.  None of which I could afford, but that is as may be.

Hey, Look! It’s Dick Bryant’s grandson!

I did end up buying JUGULA and two of the card decks after finding out what Tomahawk studio’s latest scheme to make money is.  That’s really irritating– the game is virtually unplayable without special 12 dollar (a piece) card decks. that are literally symbiotic  in the rules.. you can’t play the game without them.

Flea Market

Wally’s basement was spacious and not too crowded.  After the initial rush I visited most sessions.  I’m profoundly unimpressed.  Everything that was there I could find for cheaper prices in other venues.  No great bargains for me.

My problem is a lot of this stuff I’ve seen for 5 or 6 shows running.

Summary:

I think it was a very pleasant convention.  Somewhat low in games played but who cares..  a very huge thank you to Paul, Kevin and everyone on the team.

Hey, someone brought an old fashoned “Palm Pilot” to the event. I don’t think Guidebook runs on it!

So until next year, I leave you with this Youtube from someone who dragged a camera round the event.   See you next year.

Photos: This is most of what I shot (about 119 pictures overall) for the whole shooting match, unsorted, which should have some new pictures I haven’t posted in this narrative, visit here.

The Union Forever! The Battle of Mobile Bay


Leo Walsh ran a 1:1200 scale game of the Battle of Mobile Bay on Saturday night at HISTORICON.  The rules were AGE OF IRON.    I jumped in and ran a small line of 90 day gunboats and double-ender style ships.

The UNION FOREVER!!

Most people know the Battle of Mobile Bay as the “one where Admiral Farragut said Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead“.. and (perhaps) that’s true.  There was a lot more to Mobile Bay than a few jingoistic slogans, of course.  Mobile Bay was one of the last great sheltered ports of the Confederacy, and as long as it was not thoroughly blockaded, the South could run blockade runners in and out with impunity.  So a Union victory at Mobile Bay would have strategic consequences for both sides.

Admiral Farragut’s plan was to attack Mobile Bay in two lines, with the ironclads closest to the local fort (Fort Morgan) where their armored sides would withstand the heavy siege gun fire, and the Wooden ships lashed together with the weakest ones outside the range of fire. The Confederates also set up a line of aquatic mines (torpedoes) that had the effect of forcing the ships to pass in front of the fort’s guns.  We considered that idea, then went for the idea of FOUR lines.

The miniature terrain, such as it was, followed the historical layout reasonably closely, although the OOB was greatly expanded from the original. In addition there was the CSS Tennessee, one other (ahistorical) casemate that started farther out in the bay and was pretty slow to engage. There were four other medium to small gunboats with sizable ordinance on the other side of the barrier.

Union Forces closer up

Originally our attack plan was going to be three lines, with the ironclads protecting the more valuable screw frigates, like the Hartford and the Richmond. Leo told us that would not keep the frigates from getting hull hits, so we spread the line out over four lines– the ironclads closest to the fort, the screw frigates in two lines, and the lighter 90 day gunboats and double-enders in line farthest from the fort. I offered to take that line over the line of mines (torpedoes) that was funneling ships towards the guns of the fort. My idea was that the lighter ships going over the torpedo line would offer a huge distraction to the Confederate gunboats on the other side of the barrier.

I’m in charge of the rickety ships on the right hand side.

If it worked for Farragut, it might work for me. I managed to slip my first two ships over the barrier with no difficulty. We engaged with 3 gunboats of varying sizes on the far side of the torpedo barrier. We were using Age of Iron, which is a pretty good rule set, providing a mix of history and playability. I’ve played with them before, though not in a long time. The rules certainly address differences in armor, ship sizes and and ship aspect. I had a surprisingly lethal exchange with two Confederate gunboats, one of which was pretty tiny and hard to hit, but as I got more and more ships over the barrier, it became obvious to the Confederate that the was stuck, cut off between a line of pilings that will rip out their hull and my line of gunboats.

Sometimes the “stupid strategy” is stunningly successful

One interesting thing about those supposedly weak 90 day gunboats and double enders: put enough of them in a line, and they throw out a tremendous weight of iron at a single target. When the second Confederate ironclad showed up, my line of gunboats laid into him, ship after ship, and in one turn he suffered from 4 armor hits and 6 hull hits, and was on fire. That’s pretty good for some wooden boats! Contrast that to the line of Screw Frigates that shot past the fort and engaged the Tennessee. We lost two of them, the Brooklyn and the Richmond, due to gunfire exchanges with the Fort and the Tennessee. I lost two ships from my line, the Metacomet (lost to gunfire) and the last ship in my line, the Port Royal, finally hit a mine and sank.

Victory!

Leo’s victory conditions were basically “Sink all Confederate ships”.. and by 1100 PM it looked like we were on the way to doing that. The Tennessee was pretty shot up, and couldn’t turn very quickly, so wouldn’t be able to engage again during the time span of the game. The other (ahistorical) ironclad very likely wouldn’t have survived another turn at the rate it was receiving punishment.

So, a Union naval victory, Huzzah~! Perhaps not as complete as the historical one, but we had more ships engaged, and were facing more Confederates, too. I had a lot of fun with this game and hope to play Age of Iron again very soon.