Tag Archives: Cold Wars

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.

Lancaster Host: the end of the end, we mean it this time.


Bad news from the Lancaster Host, site of many HMGS and WBC game conventions over the years.  The Lancaster Online just reported a major water main break, causing the ceiling on three floors to break, 2000 residents and crew to be evacuated, and most importantly, the local fire chief has condemned the facility.  Details from the Lancaster Online.News Link

What does it mean?  Very likely the end of our relationship with the Host.  HMGS had a contract with the Host for Fall IN this Fall, but I’d say the Host just effectively cancelled most contracts.  It’s a shame, really.  The Host was a smelly dump, but it was our smelly dump.. As comfortable as an old shoe.

Farewell, Host, you served us well over the years.


 From the HMGS Board of Directors

It’s important to show the other side of the story, always.  I have to hand it to this Board, they have been on top of rumor control and quick to reach out to individual bloggers (such as your humble servant) in an effort to quell the occasional bout of mass hysteria.  When I get that kind of communication, I feel duty bound to post it– it doesn’t cost anything to see the other side of the coin, eh?

As you may have heard a plumbing line ruptured in the Host on Saturday.  Assorted on line accounts can be found here:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-host-condemned-after-major-water-main-break-collapses-ceilings/article_b84f5ff2-252f-11e6-88fb-ffb8c2d14621.html

http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/05/lancaster_host_resort_closed_b.html

http://fox43.com/2016/05/29/hundreds-evacuated-from-lancaster-host-resort-after-ceiling-collapse/

In spite of the overblown news reports the HOST has power and water restored Monday.

We spoke with Host management Tuesday and can add the following details:

The Host is currently open for business but with certain areas inaccessible due to flooding and water damage.

The Host had two [2] water pipes break; one on the 400 level and one on the 600 level which caused some of the drop ceiling to come down in the hallways.

Both a plumbing company and a restoration company are on site making repairs.
The Host is planning to reopen the affected areas by  Monday 6/6 at the latest.

We  will update you if there is any new information, especially as regards to Fall IN 2016, and the possibly accelerated remodeling.

Kevin Kelley
For HMGS Board of Directors

With that said, has my opinion changed much?  Not really.  I sincerely feel as if every show we throw at the Host is basically rehearsing for a disaster of these proportions.  Fortunately this was a local dancing event and not one of our shows– that would be a severe financial hit, albeit not cataclysmic, to be objective.  If we had to evacuate everyone from the show, and possibly even refund a lot of the admissions, it would certainly hurt the bottom line, but worse, it would erode any confidence in the holding company that operates the Host currently.  As it is, they operate the place on the barest of shoestring budgets– no investment is evident, beyond sustenance level patchwork measures like renting a portable physical plant to keep the place heated and air conditioned (and parked in the parking lot), or brand new shiny blue tarps to cover the multitudinous leaks over the Lampeter ballroom.  Last convention, we heard a lot of positive stuff at the membership meeting about the company investing money into the hotel.  This just doesn’t seem to have come to pass, beyond emergency repairs.

All that griping aside, I’m a realist.  There just isn’t a competing space anywhere in the “sweet spot” (Central PA).  EVERY alternative the board has looked at seems to have a problem with it that could lead to even worse griping if we move the cons there.  Believe it or not there are metrics for what the BoD is looking for, and they have been forthcoming about what they are– a certain amount of space, adequate parking, attached hotels, easy access to transportation hubs like 95, nearby airports, lots of places to go to eat and even something to do if you bring your family with you.   Lancaster isn’t the perfect option, but it had one thing going for it– it was very cheap compared to other venues, and it hit ENOUGH of those metrics to keep a significant amount of people content for many years.  I’m not sure what we can do going forward.  We might just have to compromise on something major– cost/space/parking/geography, something, to find a new venue.

Cold Wars 2016: I’m out of order? You’re out of order!


I attended Cold Wars 2016 with my son Garrett last weekend, and generally had a pretty good time.  Generally.  I’m on staff for the other two shows of the year, Fall-IN! and HISTORICON, so I generally just go to CW as a tourist these days, and I don’t stay at the Host, as it’s usually full up by the time I’m planning on going to this show.  This makes for a short stay, as I can’t justify staying at a hotel for more than an evening.  Dutifully, we got on the road early for once on Friday and ended up getting to the show in decent time.  Cold Wars 2016 certainly wasn’t attended in record numbers, but enough people were there that parking was problematic on Friday morning at 10 AM, which is a good sign.  We both did something I had never done before this show, and that’s attend a Hobby University class on modifying and kit-bashing Matchbox cars for Post-Apocalyptic Car Combat games taught by Joey McGuire.  Mr. McGuire pooh-poohed my interest in his class, saying he felt I had already taken my class, since I have painted about 60 cars for White Line Fever.  Nonsense, there’s always something new to learn, and I learned something new here.  Actually, a few things, but first and best was a much better method of painting rust than I had used previously:
Start with flat black on all the shiny and metal parts.
Then go with a Burnt Umber dry brush, then with a Shadow’s Flesh dry brush, then actual orangey rust color. Then highlight with a darker silver.  the result is multilayered and subtle, far more subtle than the cars I’ve been doing.


Paint combination for Rust

And here are the results. I took the pickup, Garrett made a retro-cannon out of his “Nashlike” deco car


Killer Low-ridin’ Pickup truck
Gar made an up-armored “Stretch Nash rambler” with two Gatling guns on a rack up top.

I really enjoyed Joey’s class (which also taught me the benefits of Zip Kicker) and would recommend it to anyone. Special thanks to Lon Weiss from Brigade Games for providing packs of add on weapons and armor for this class.

Gar has become a big fan of Battletech (the FASA product, now owned and supported by Catalyst Gaming Labs). So he looked at the schedule and decided to go sit in on the Battletech Grinder games in the Cornwall Room all weekend.

The Grinder, apparently, is a Battletech competition where you play, get killed, and come back as a different, hopefully stronger, mech. Garrett ended up with a Battlemaster at the end but only had it for a couple of turns before they ended the Grinder. So it goes.  Thanks to the guy running this event (which was more than one table, it was a room of Battletech, btw), and thanks to MOST of Gar’s opponents for being nice to the newbie.  The less said about the loud-mouthed kid who complained bitterly about every roll of the die that went against him, the better.

I got into a pre-Dreadnought game Friday night.  I wanted to try out FROSTGRAVE but couldn’t get in to the Friday night game, it being full up.  So I went with a back up plan, and I’m glad I did.  I got a ticket to the Deadly Warfare games playtest of “Black Smoke and Blue Seas” or something like that.  More on this later, since I spent some time relieving myself of money in exchange for hobby items Friday until “go time”.

The dealer’s room was the dealer’s room.. we can’t expect the giant vendors of bygone days and should be grateful for the ones who show up in force, or the old standbys that are still making a showing, albeit in a greatly reduced footprint.

It's a picture from 2015, sorry

I got a copy of the Pre-Dreadnought rules (Black Smoke, Blue Water) we were about to play for the playtest, and starter fleet for Manila Bay.   I also picked up a cigar box battle mat for a medieval/fantasy city, probably for running Frostgrave on.  I got some nice pieces for Road Warrior/White Line Fever in a leftover parts bin at Hobby House, the new Cultists expansion for Frostgrave and the spell cards, because, well, they’re nifty looking and pretty handy.. besides, I wanted to thank Brigade Games for sponsoring Hobby University by throwing some coin his way.  I was going to get troop cards for BLUCHER, but, sadly, they were sold out when I went back for them.   I looked over the flea market as well, but didn’t find much of what I came there to buy.  I was looking for AQMF Martian stuff (which hasn’t taken a nose dive in price like I thought it might), as well as 15mm SF and some other bits and bobs.  Sigh.

Events: Given that I was only there from Friday morning-ish until late Saturday night, I didn’t see everything.  However, I did like most of what I saw.  The ballroom wasn’t jammed on Friday, which  usually has people complaining about the empty tables, but every game I saw didn’t lack for players (YMMV).

Friday night around 6PM I participated in the playtest game of BLACK SMOKE, BLUE WATER.  This is a game of Pre-Dreadnought era ship combat, with some important caveats; this game setting assumes about a twenty year leap forward in technology, so it adds some elements that would be missing in a straight up historical period game, such as air operations, submarines and etc.  The game played well.  I thought the combat in a multiplayer game really slowed down somewhat when the ranged narrowed and many options (based on calibers of weapon) opened up.  The designers welcomed feedback and got some good gouge from the players.

The game scenario was Manila Bay (the same fleets I had bought that morning).  The American fleet is entering the board just clearing Cavite island which has a battery that can shoot out 36 inches. Not having any operational need to land on Cavited, we just cheerfully ignored it and steamed onward, keeping more than 36″ out of range.  I ran the Olympia and the Baltimore.  For much of the fight we were the chief American ships engaging the Spaniards, but it was still a one sided contest (not in the Spaniard’s favor).  I felt bad for the Spaniards.. their Torpedo Boat force were pretty close to Cavite at the onset, but when it was clear we weren’t going near the place, they had to spend most of the game running in flank to engage the Americans, only really coming close in the last few turns.  The Spanish Admiral was quite aggressive, unlike his historical counterpart, and gave almost as good as he got.  In game terms, the Olympia was the best ship on the board (and that bears up with the historical battle).  Having guns of over 7″ was a big advantage in certain situations and that contributed to the American fleet sinking a Spanish battle cruiser.  We called the game after a certain point and discussed the mechanics.  For a small slide show of the engagement, please click on the picture below.

It was a fun game experience, and I do like the rules.  I find the combat to be a little drawn out, but what can I say, they are correct in modeling all that gunfire, such as it is.. each of the ships of the era had a veritable battery of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary gun types of various sizes and calibers.  They were effective in their roles, up to a point.  My torpedo (the only one that hit of the six that were shot) was what ended the one Spanish ship that sank, and that also seems to reflect history.. the ship guns weren’t huge and they weren’t very accurate.   It just seemed to be a remarkably bloodless engagement compared to the actual historical Manila Bay.

Some great games were going on in the Distelfink Friday night and Saturday day…

Jon Paul Cosgrove’s excellent “Zombies attacking a Prison that is suspiciously like the one he worked at” game had some amazing scenery.

zombies and prison

zombies and prison

There was a Russian Revolution/Civil War game going in the back, not sure who ran it but it looked like tons of fun.. and was a beauty to behold.

Oh and there was THIS THING, which was playing Saturday, I think:

Invasion of the Pasta People? Maybe?

Whatever! Looks like it was a blast to play.. and it certainly was colorful.

Jim McWee was running a zombies overrunning a town game that I think he has run before. Sure was nice and colorful!

There was even a naval game based on the Destroyermen series going on in the corner:


courtesy of Leo Walsh

The best part as always was seeing old friends again and jawing with some familiar faces we don’t see but a few times a year (if we are lucky):


(Bob and Cleo at the table next to me)

One game I wanted to capture in pictures was a double blind game of MIDWAY based upon the classic Avalon Hill game of the same name being played in the Distelfink.  It was fantastic.  Fortunately the guy who writes DE NERDIBUS got a few pictures of it and I include the link below.

Saturday morning Gar and I got in to the one game we both played together, which was S161: Frostgrave – Cold Harbor, run by Jon Lundberg.  I had a really fun time playing this.  I had a Chronomancer and small gang (including a polar bear!).  We slipped in to the city from the South side, hardly killed anyone (except for a rampaging killer snowman) and was altogether too polite — not a lot of blood was spilled.  Still, I got 4 treasures off the board, which is a respectable showing, I think.  Click the picture above to see a very small album of pictures from the first Frostgrave game I played Saturday Morning, if you have an interest.


(or try this link)

I did one more run on the dealer’s room Saturday but the stuff I was going back for had sold out.  So it goes.  I ended up taking a nap in a chair in the lobby, and checking in with Garrett, who was joyously stomping other big stompy mechas. as you can see here:

25807517041_4077e9b58e

He played until quite late in the evening, and it was a slugfest. Garrett’s comment about his day immediately brought up that age old stereotype. “Dad, the guy next to me was your age, almost. I’ve never smelled an adult that smelled that bad in my life.. do people not shower here or something? It could have gagged a maggot“. He didn’t understand why I was laughing until I hiccupped… (to clarify, the man he was referring to IS NOT PICTURED)

Apparently the Membership meeting went off while I was pre-dreadnoughting the night before. Here’s what I got from Otto Schmidt, who did attend:

I attended the membership meeting at Cold Wars on Friday night at 7 pm.

The following items were announced

Three hotel chains are in negotiations to buy the host, two are national changes one is a regional chain. THE HOST sales rep says that all of them will NOT tear the host down but will repair and restore it bit by bit, one section at a time. The guest rooms will need the majority of the work, but the meeting rooms will need not much more than some new carpets and cosmetic changes. The heating and air conditioning plant will be replace and some electrical work done and the bathrooms repaired. This was reported by the Bod who said that the impact on us would be, if we stayed, that the hotel would lose 60 rooms at a time as they were reconditioned, but that could be taken up by surrounding hotels. They did say that the room rate then would, according to the host, go up to $149 USD a night.

The BOD also said they were looking at other venues including YORK convention center and Lancaster Convention Center, both of whom had been rejected previously and Dave Waxtel is investigating a location in Somerset County NJ. No name was mentioned.

I had a report from the owner of the Continental hotel who is heavily involved with the local hotel organization that the host is in receivership (or soon will be) to the bank. This was not said at the meeting.

The Bod announced that Fall in 2016 will be at the host and Cold Wars 2017 will be there also. After that it would be as negotiations with the host and new owners progressed.

The BOD said they were looking at a cost saving measure of buying tables for the convention. They said their largest expense each year was $60,000 USD for table and chair rental. They were investigating buying these (folding chairs) and it would cost about $25,000 USD total. The original plan, (pre-auction) was to store these at The Lancaster Host and let the Host Use them for other events and the host would pay us a fee when this was done and that the cost of the purchase would then be amortized over about four years. This plan was put in abeyance after the auction kerfuffle, because it was realized that if we did that the tables and chairs would be seized if a foreclosure was processed, and it did not mater if we owned them.

If a bank or agency does this, the release of them would not take place till all creditors with outstanding charges against the hotel were satisfied, and any assets or possessions on site would be part of “inventory” and so sold off.

No discussion was made of the chairs and table rentals for Historicon in Fredericksburg and the rental cost was not broken out for that, nor was it said if the tables and chairs allegedly stored at the host (if it came to pass) would be trucked down to Virginia) nor the cost of haulage and dunnage for that.

Nominations of officers were made. The Bod will publish them in the newsletter. ”

(this is repeated on TMP and elsewhere, quotations Otto Schmidt)

There was some other reports about someone attending Salut in the UK (Dave Waxtel) and as to whether he was paying for it or the Board. Dave is. There was a lot of discussion (on TMP or elsewhere) as to whether a Salut “diorama game” convention will work in a US market (most Americans think not). There was some discussion about paying clubs or GMs to run large set piece games by helping them with their construction expenses. “This is paying GMs to run games” was mentioned from the floor. There was some contention– I could point out HMGS has paid GMs in the past and has the leeway to do it on a per show basis.. just ask anyone who has paid for “Uncle Duke” in the past.

As for the comments about the Host. Hmmm. I fully expected 2016 to be the last year I would be going to a Cold Wars game at the Host. I’m astounded that chains are interested in this property, but apparently it is fulfilling a requirement for mid-income to low-income convention gatherings that no other property around can fill, and there’s a real economic need for a property called the Host. Still.. there’s SO MUCH work to do to fix this place up..


The temporary physical plant, now taking up several parking places.. this keeps the place in hot water.. most of the time.


Downstairs toilets were broken most of Saturday– with big yellow “do not cross” police tape covering the doors. One of the urinals UPstairs broke, too (pictured). So at one point, there were only three urinals and 5 stalls for the entire Lancaster host facility (working).

Everywhere, everywhere.. there’s signs of decay and crumbling. The kitschy cool sixties rock exterior is crumbling off the building in several places. The railing up the side of the handicapped ramp to the lobby is now floating in mid air in all but two places.. The roof.. well, you know about the roof.

Saturday night I resolved to get into another game of Frostgrave, as I like the rules a lot. I really wanted to attend S244: Frostgrave: Treasure Hunting in the Frozen City. I was the last alternate to get in. Jeff Hiley’s terrain was simply fantastic. He won an award for it in the middle of the game! I played a Summoner for this game, and managed to nab 4 treasures.. but only got two off board by end game. We were doing the good versus evil thing, which suited me. This was my favorite game of the convention by a country mile; this is not to say I didn’t love the other games too, I just got into the setting so much with Jeff Hiley’s terrain efforts it was hard to come to any other conclusion.


Jeff getting an award.

We got into a big fight with some do-gooders at the choke points on the ramp. I think I was up against a Thaumaturgist at least. Sadly the only spell I had much of a shot with was LEAP, which did work most of the time, and Summon Demon, which was ineffectual most of the game. The rest of my spells were just too blinkin’ hard.

There’s a nice slide show of the Second Frostgrave game Saturday night below, if you have an interest. Just click on the picture.


(Or try this link)

As it was 11PM at this point, Gar and I had to bail out and head home.. it was an easy trip but we were already pretty tired so didn’t want to press our luck.

Sadly we had to miss Eric’s Road Warrior game, but it’s just as well, I prefer the HO sized one.

So that was our COLD WARS 2016. For me, it was the Frostgrave Cold Wars. I’m quite taken with that game and am painting up some warbands. The decrepit surroundings didn’t make the convention run less efficiently (though there were and are the usually carping about things that never seem to change, like long lines). I definitely gamed more and enjoyed myself more than I usually do at conventions. Thanks to all the crew who helped me get Guidebook done for this convention– Theresa, Paul, Scott, Scott, Heather etc. (see previous post on that subject. I did try a few new things this year, like taking pictures and uploading them to the guidebook. Not sure who can see these or if they are shared to the general guidebook user base or not. In any event, Guidebook was its usual useful self. The CD of Cold Wars really could care less about it, but the attendees do, so I’ll keep doing it despite official indifference.

Finally, if I could sum it up, I’d say this was a convention of interesting games and some good times.  My son came with me and I encouraged him to go off and find his own groove.. he hung out with guys his own age (or older) all weekend and had a terrific time.  I played in some great games, and saw some great games being played.  It was more of a game playing convention than a shopping con for me.

So as the sun set swiftly in the West, we drove home, tired and all conventioned-out. See everyone at HISTORICON!!!

(SLIDE SHOW of all Cold Wars 2016 pictures I took over the weekend)
(or try this link)

De Nerdibus: Cold War pictures (including the Midway double blind game)

Xin’s Lair: Cold Wars 2016 Frostgrave Game

Guidebook for Cold Wars 2016 is released


app for that

In a real crash program of data entry, I have managed to put together a Guidebook guide for Cold Wars 2016.  Thanks to Paul Trani, Theresa Presizosi, Scott Holder, and Scott Landis for their assorted (timely) inputs.

Guidebook has changed a bit over the years we have been using it for HMGS conventions.  I’m going to go over the basic screens now and show some of the new(ish) features.

A couple caveats up front.

First of all, we don’t have TRACKS any more.  That’s a pay feature and HMGS is too cheap to buy it.. so no more color coded dots and collections of categories of events.  I liked the color coding but even I am not sure if it’s worth the extra $$ Guidebook is asking to activate tracks, and I’m fairly bullish about Guidebook.  Secondly, I got a lot of the data for this guidebook pretty late (VERY late), so I didn’t have time to add little banners for “Event” “Tournament” “Hobby U” etc.. you’ll just have to figure it out yourselves this time, sorry.

Screenshots were taken on an Ipad Air, the smart phone menu will look different.

And now, the grand tour– if you don’t want to bother, scroll to the bottom of this post and all the download links will be there.

CW16 Guidebook Main Screen

This is the main screen (above).  The layout is a little nicer than before, and they have streamlined a lot of the “basic convention information” into a single screen.  The menu items are on the left in this shot because of the tablet I’m using (an Ipad Air).

Going from the top of the menu, down, here is Exhibitors– aka Vendors.  In the main listing I

CW16 guidebook individual exhibitor listing

This is an individual exhibitor (see above).  In this case Eureka.  The listing will mention location (table number on the vendor hall map, posted in maps), as well as some description and a website.  If the vendor has any sales or promotions for the show, this is the place to put it.  Note the “Add to T0-Do” link on the bottom. This places the listing on your to-do list (menu item) so it can be a note to yourself to visit this vendor in the exhibitors hall.

Next thing down is the speaker’s list (below) and an individual speaker (below that).

CW16 guidebook speaker's list

and detailed speaker listing.. There’s that handsome devil.

CW16 guidebook individual speaker

This is basically what GB used to refer to as “an extra custom list” and it used to cost big money, so I’m glad it’s free.  We can break out speakers into their own category this way.   Note that you can add a SEMINAR to your “to-do” list, as well.

Going down the list “Contacts” is just a small list for listing people on the convention staff. I haven’t populated it beyond Frank P, I might get to it before the show but I doubt it.

Inbox (next item down) is back from previous years.  This is simply a way for me (or convention management) to send an email to all Guidebook users at once.  I haven’t sent out a test message yet so there’s nothing to look at, I didn’t bother with a screen shot.

Photos:

Photo album is kind of new, and blessedly FREE.  Here’s how it works.. you take a picture(s) or two of a game you are in, or of something interesting.  You can upload it in Guidebook so that it appears in the universal show album.  Not sure what the capacity of this thing is as I haven’t tested it.  Here’s me uploading a picture in three easy steps:

one

selecting a picture or taking a new one

two

writing a caption

three

image in guidebook image catalogue

Images can be a really fun way of sharing not just YOUR game but all the games you played with your mates out to everyone going to the convention.

Schedule:

This looks pretty much like it has looked and works more or less the same way as in past guidebooks. Here’s a few screenshots breaking it down to a couple of individual events.

schedule page for a day

individual schedule item, Hobby U
A Hobby University event– note that Hobby U, Games and Tournaments will all look pretty much the same in the current schedule. I use a T- in front of Tournament event titles and the mortar board to represent Hobby U events.

individual schedule item, Game
A regular game event in the schedule.

MAPS are about the same as always with one nice feature. See the little blue arrows bottom right? That’s a zoom out arrow. Watch what it does:

before:

Map, not zoomed out

after:

 

Map, blue button removes menu for easier viewing

TO DO LIST basically is a reminder list you build by clicking on “Add to my to-do list” for various vendors, speakers etc.   You can also add items to it as “Add item”. I didn’t bother with a screenshot. No, WAIT, it turns out I did:

to do list

MY SCHEDULE is the schedule that YOU build by checking off schedule items in SCHEDULE. You can also set reminders to your self for Guidebook to nag you before an event occurs. This works as it has before, no major changes.

ATTENDEES works as it has before, this is NOT A REGISTRATION SYSTEM. It’s a checking in system, to tell OTHER GUIDEBOOK USERS “Hey, I’m here at the convention”.

GENERAL INFORMATION is all that stuff on the main page.. Google Maps, convention prices, schedule, directions etc.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS are back for this guidebook, in the form of Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter:
Twitter connection screen

I’ve plugged in these hashtags: #ColdWars16, #HMGS, #CW2016, and this account: @HMGS_Inc, since Cold Wars doesn’t seem to have a Twitter account.

Facebook:
Facebook Connection screen

This connects to the HMGS page on Facebook, like last year.

With all that said, here is where you go to get your GUIDEBOOK
https://guidebook.com/g/CW2016/

Here is the link to view it online. The screen layout is very similar to my Ipad Screenshots
https://guidebook.com/guide/53323/

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.

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!

Retro: The Great Amish Rake Fight Games, 2002-2003


Another in a series of visits down memory lane to the world of Retro gaming.

The subject of this post was a game that many have referenced in public over the years but few actually saw.  That’s because it was only played twice in public and once for practice at Bob Giglio’ s house.   Namely: the Great Amish Rake Fight.  This is a semi-legendary game (if I do say so, myself) that gets bandied about now and then with a “remember when” twinkle in everybody’s eye.  My name is associated with it, to be sure, as I was one of the two people who ran it and one of the small group of dedicated ninnies who built it and contributed to it– and I think I’m as good of a reference as any.

Your Humble Narrator, suited up as referee at the first running of the Great Amish Rake Fight Game (Cold Wars 2002).  The very real beard is visual proof of the lengths I used to go to for a sight gag.  I actually shaved it off at this con!

Please note: Bob Giglio, co-GM of ARF, has kindly provided some material, corrections and most importantly PHOTOGRAPHS of the 2002 event.  Photographs provided by Bob, and where direct quotes apply, they are cited.

The Great Amish Rake Fight game, or ARF, as it has been referenced from 2003 onward, has its origins in an email conversation held  between Del Stover, Bob Giglio, and other members of the HMGS Marketing Outreach program.  If I’m recalling things correctly, someone, I think it was Del, mentioned that there wasn’t any historical battle sites local to Lancaster PA’s HOST facility that he could properly leverage to get a historical crowd to come running to see.  Or something like that.  In my own wise-assed way, I interjected, saying words to the effect of “nonsense.. I have been making Amish Military units for the great Amish Rake Fight game, haven’t you heard of that?”  Big laughs all around.   I had pulled the name from an old USENET group from the dawn of the Internet that had (at the time) very little to do with gaming.

The thing is, I actually had been slowly building militarized Amish units (squad sized), for a game that I ran a lot of back in the day, THE RULES WITH NO NAME.  This is an excellent Western skirmish rules set that used to be free for the download, but has since become a commercial product, so I won’t provide a download link.  My idea (then) was to create an “Amish versus Outlaws” game, where some bad guys were riding into town with the intention of looting it blind, and the normally pacifistic Amish were driven to extremis to protect themselves.  My thoughts where give the Amish player some form of hero figure plus 1-4 scut troops of various abilities to follow him around and engage with the Outlaws.  The Hero figure could either be a young Amish fighter armed with a rake, or a churn, or a buggy whip, axe, shovel, anything handy.  Or he might be an Elder, whose job is to “Shame” the outlaw with an effect akin to stunning him.  I had some great buildings that would have worked in a Western setting, and I was working on some ideas for Amish secret weapons to counter the technological advantage the outlaws had (guns).  That was about where this game was when I mentioned it in the meeting.  Bob Giglio loved the idea.  I mentioned some of my ideas, he immediately ran with it and we started collaborating on the spot.  There was a lot of polite tittering from those we mentioned the concept to and repeated “yeah, rights”, which only firmed our resolve to make the game happen.    Over the next few months, Bob and I, joined by Neil Brennan and Chris Johnson, worked on the figures, the terrain and the rules.   I already had about 40 Amish painted up.  Bob added some special figures he had done (and painted much better than my meager efforts).    Terrain was simple, a ground cloth covering a 6 x 10 area with a road (representing Route 30) and some ERTL farm buildings and other structures to represent a portion of the Amish town.

28mm AMISH FIGURES (It’s easier than you think)

The Amish figures proved to be easier to pull off than I had imagined.  I started with a big bag of Old Glory’s 25mm Western range, namely the WAGON TRAIN SETTLERS.  There are some very useful conversion figures inside– men with small carbines and buggy whips and such.   I recall Joel Gregory had cast some useful farm implements (butter churns, shovels, etc., but ironically no rakes).  He graciously donated to the project and I replaced rifles for shovels, etc.  I also used the many female figures in the bag, as well.  One showed a severe woman stirring something in a bucket on the ground with a long pole.  I dubbed that figure “Vat Women”, and painted them up with a severed head in the bucket, as if she was rendering it down for something.  Honestly, I can’t recall what she did in game terms other than look cool.

WP 17: Old glory Wagon Train Settlers

Old Glory’s WG-17 bag of figures was (and is) a hell of a bargain; even after the price has gone up I believe I managed to convert the entire bag of 30 figures into either useful Amish Line troops, weapons crews or something very decorative and Amish looking.  Conversion notes– I bent the hat brims to something resembling flat.  Where the hat had a rounded crown I filed it flat.  I painted the hat straw colored with a narrow black ring around it.  Shirts were uniformly pale blue denim.  Pants black or blue.  Coats Black.  I removed all rifles and added farming implements.  I left the buggy whip in the buggy whip figure’s hands– that’s one implement an Amish man WOULD have..  Women’s dresses were grey, black or blue.  Very easy to pull off.   All figures were mounted on pennies.

To this, I added single Dixon Old West Range figures from the “Mexican peon” range and Stagecoach and Townsfolk ranges.  I bought a lot of WG76, WG77, and WG78, as all of these are using in-scale farming implements as part of the original sculpt.  Conversion was not as easy as the OG Settlers– I had to file and flatten the sombreros, file down the sandals a little to so the toes aren’t as pronounced and paint the formerly bare feet as boots.   I did add a few macabre touches, like drilling the off hand of one of the peons and adding a head modeled as if it were recently severed and being held by him.  A little hard core for Amish, but hey, the whole POINT of this game is parody, so why not.

Just a few candidates for conversion from Dixon miniatures Old West line:

WG 76

(remove rifle)
WG 79

WG 92

Bob Giglio contributed several figures from Westwind’s Gothic Horror Range, none of which I can find pictures of at this stage.  They were mostly the Bohemian Villagers or something like that.  They looked like Amish people.. kinda.. if you squint a little.  The Amish never went in for the lacy shirt look, but they did have agricultural tools.  Bob also provided some Boers from the Old Glory Boer range that definitely fit, though it was hard to find Boers without guns.   Great wagons.

Courtesy of the Bob Giglio Collection. This picture depicts the Amish figs post-conversion. Most of these are converted Old Glory Settlers except these: the Amish male waving a machete is an ex-Mexican Peon, as is the Amish directly to the right of the Meek standing at the end of the bridge.  Partially obscured is a Westwind figure to the left. Yes, the Amish had standards, see below. CLICK PICTURE to enlarge

Amish Flags used as Unit Standards

Transport

Civilian automobiles were a mix of  diecast modern vehicles that were kinda, sorta in 1:64 scale (nominal for 25mm).   We had several State Police cars, using the Pennsylvania State Police logo.  We also had a police copter.   There were several cars parked as props in front of the large barn where the game starts off; in addition there were some construction equipment that I picked up from a toy set that seemed sized right.  The big surprise was the ubiquitous Amish buggies.    If you’re a scratch builder and have gamed in the 19th century, then you probably know of the pencil sharpener covered wagons.  There’s also one modeled along the lines of a Amish buggy.  I thought this was a dubious choice, but you know, once Bob had painted up a mess of these, they really looked great and roughly in scale, if somewhat smallish.

Voila, Cheap Amish Buggies, available in bulk at any sleazy souvenir stand in Amish Land

I made the ubiquitous little orange triangle signs for the back of each buggy and even tried to make “Scythes” to make them killer buggies, but the latter looked terrible, so we gave up on that idea.

 Terrain

Terrain was pretty easy.  I was collecting a lot of ERTL farmville sets back in those days, which are nominally scaled for 1:64.  I had two big barns, and we had diverse smaller buildings from craft store holiday sets and such that worked in that scale, as well as one scratchbuilt Amish Stripper palace that offered “Lapp Dances”.  Yeah, parody can be fairly broad at times.   Bob built us a good looking Route 30 for one end of the map, and Bob also built some streams, roads and hills to break up the terrain a little– and he did it effortlessly.  It was a real pleasure to collaborate with Bob in this way.  We’d discuss the problem of terrain and ZIP! he’d go to some part of his basement, find the right thing, or build it from scratch, no muss, no fuss.

Bob adds:
(with the exception of the barns) The terrain was all done by me, including the first ever Lapp’s with the sign that said “We have Lap Dances”, well before MBA had created one. 😉

See the map:

The Great Amish Rake Fight games, terrain

Courtesy of the Bob Giglio Collection.  Here’s a shot of Amish in action near the Amish Market. Some of the local thugs are approaching on the lower right. You can see one of the painted pencil sharpener buggies and some of the Christmas Village buildings we used for structures. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. The Route 30 terrain, built by Bob. Plus some of the signs I made and the diecast cars.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. More fun on Route 30

From the Bob Giglio Collection. The Roadhouse, with a custom billboard. State motorcycle cops on the right.

Here’s some Road Signs I made up using a color printer, a laminating machiine and some wooden bits

Rules

Rules… What can I say?  Bob G. and I are two very different GMs.  Bob is a very procedure oriented GM, who likes the details, and likes to have this resolved before the game starts, preferably by playtesting.  He is not adverse to using a published set of rules.  I’m more of a “GM for effect” kind of GM, and have been known to make something up for the sheer dramatic hell of it on the spot.  Once or twice.  With that said, ARF was going to be a game where the mechanics really weren’t THAT important.  I knew that going in to the project.  Most of the fun was going to be had with the theme and the setting and the way we were riffing on a non-violent race of people being secretly capable of violence and possessing weapons of mass destruction.   I mean, with that premise, who cares how far someone moves and someone shoots, as long as they do it consistently?  I pushed for THE RULES WITH NO NAME early on, but didn’t really care if Bob was pushing for something else, so we went with THE BOOTLEGGERS, a gangster rule set Bob was very familiar with and had run huge games at HMGS events in the past with.  Being a game that could handle fire and movement and relatively modern weaponry, I was game.  We had to modify it a bunch for the Amish secret weapons.  Oh?  What were those?

The Amish Secret Weapons

 If there was something (besides the figures and terrain) that really “made” ARF .. ARF, it was the secret weapons.  These were a collection of Amish inspired weaponry that had a definitive impact on the game, but could be codified using the Bootleggers rules.  To be honest, I forget a lot of them, but the rule was they had to be goofy, there had to be a model representing the item, and it had to be modified “Amish stuff”.. e.g. Agricultural implements.  There’s not a lot of pictures of this event, but the ones I remember are:

The Pie Flinger: This was a device (taken from an Ertl farm toy) that was manned by the female Amish figures.  The presumption was that it fired a hot sticky pie into the onrushing hordes of progress, automatic style.

The Poopn’flinger:  I can’t remember what the backstory was on this thing, but it featured an outhouse-catapult kind of arrangement.  So it would “Fire” poop..

Bob adds:
The Poop-a-Flinga was the creation of Chris Johnson’s fertile(?) mind. It was an outhouse with a large Y-branch in front of it (for the slingshot base) with two long rubber bands stretching into the door of the outhouse, from which the “projectile” would be fired. I think it was on wheels or something, so it could pivot accordingly, to “acquire” a target. Very creative, to say the least — good show Chris!

Der Super Kow:  This was a cow (also manned by a female figure) that was fed a mash of beans and oats.  If an enemy gets within a certain distance, the crew bonks der Kow on the nose, and lights a fire near the tale.. KA BOOM!  Natural flame thrower.  Pretty much a one shot weapon.

The Harrower of Death: This was the weapon of the Mennonites in Black, an allied faction working with the Amish.   It was somewhat verboten in terms of Amish-tech, as it had a steam engine.  The model was another useful pencil sharpener model familiar to VSF/Steampunk miniatures enthusiasts:

This had a big harrower from ERTL’s “Farm Country” set attached fore and aft, the idea being it would drive into crowds and rip them apart. Yeah, pretty bloody for such a peaceable people.

Bob adds:

Also remember, one of the “abilities” we gave the Amish, with a nod to “Children of the Corn”, was that they could go into any cornfield and take a turn to “teleport” to any other cornfield on the board (with a chance of a mishap, naturally).

Last, and by far not the least:

The Amish Cow-ta-pault:  This was, simply put, a giant medieval catapult that fired a live, irate cow into oncoming vehicles.  The cowtapult stole the show, as we will see later on.

Force Composition:

The Amish were divided into roughly 6 groups of ten skirmishers each with a “special” .. either an Amish Self-Immolator (Amish Guy with  a giant fertilizer bomb) or a Meek (remember the “elder” figure that could freeze enemies with a “Shaming?”  That’s a Meek).   The individual female figures mostly were used as Weapon Crews on the secret weapons.   Oh, yeah.. we had a John Book character (From WITNESS).  He was like an Amish Super-fighter.

What about “the Bad Guys”?

Hey, it you have half a brain you’re probably figuring out we were pretty subjectively sympathetic to the Amish in this game design.  YET, we had to have an opposition of sorts– one that was consistent and logical and with 21st century technology, meaning small arms, police weapons, maybe a SWAT team here  and there.  As far as I can recall there was a hodgepodge of groups on the “Forces of Progress” side:

A Gang of Gamer types, from a nearby historical miniatures gaming convention going on that weekend (ARF shamelessly breached the Fourth Wall all game long).  Melee weapons at best.. I think all they did was drive up to the fight and get their butts kicked.

A Board of Development e.g., the BoD (with cunningly altered names) from said convention, who want to buy up Amish-land and build a giant, NEW convention center for holding gaming conventions in, right on that spot, so they are here to check up on their investment. I think some of them had saps and pistols.

Two gangs of Biker Thugs, 10 each, approaching from the direction of Route 30.  Armed with melee weapons and pistols.

Some Union Goons that are being paid off by the Board of Directors to persuade the local Amish to get out of the way of the construction equipment.  Melee weapons and some pistols.

A Grader and a Bulldozer to destroy Amish Buildings.. which is how the “Bad Guys” counted victory points

Local Pennsylvania Cops, armed with shotguns and pistols.  They arrive very late.

A SWAT Team for air dropping into the melee from the chopper (only it never happened, as I will narrate presently)

Scenario

So, we got to this point where we had all this keen stuff.. and couldn’t explain why people would be fighting with one another.  Hmmm….  I was going with the Secret Weapons being the driver.. that some tourists had taken pictures of the secret weapons project in a barn and an altercation had taken place, and mayhem ensued from there.  The thinly disguised HMGS BoD was thrown in by Bob and Neil, which I thought was funny, albeit perhaps a tad overdone for reasons that had more to do with HMGS politics at that time then good natured ribbing, but once we were playing most of that was forgotten.   Anyway, it turned out to be a good plot driver, since the BoD is now there to oversee the demolition and laying the foundations for their new convention center (some issues never go away, eh?) while the Amish just want to defend their age-old way of life.. classic cinematic moralizing, I loved it.    It made it pretty easy to target the bad guys and to define a “victory condition” of sorts– The Amish start with all buildings intact and so many VPs.. if the bad guys demolish a building, VPs go down, etc etc etc.  Such things didn’t matter much to me, then and now.  I was awarding victory based on a sense of style, myself.

PEL Listing 2002 Game

2002 Title: AMISH RAKE FIGHT (ARF) – The Battle of Lancaster!
Hosts: Brother Robert Giglio & Brother Walter O’Hara (NOVAG)
Prize: RLBPS (Bob Bowling) – Prizes TBA, but overall winner gets a Shoo-Fly-Pie (No substitutions!)
Scale/Period: 25mm Skirmish (man-to-man) / Modern (i.e., 2001 to everyone but, the Amish, it’s 1842 for them!)Rules: “Hold Still, Brother, While I Must Smite Thee” (adapted Bootlegger rules by Steve Barber Models – Modified)
Time & Game Length: Sat. Noon, 4 hrs
8 Players
Special Requirements: Adults only; must be willing to live with the idea that someone, somewhere, for some reason in our overly PC culture, may be offended by this event! Intoxicating beverages will facilitate admission to game!!
Game Description:The local Brothers of the Staw Hats & Highwater Pants have had enough of taunts, slights, and insults, and are walking amok! Armed to the teeth with all sorts of farming implements, join them in their righteous fight against local youths, yahoos, and tourists. So grab your rake and come on down for another reminder that “War is Heck”. This will be a war between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists (US style) – “Thee be careful amongst deem English!” [PC Advisory: It’s a game, stupid! A very politically incorrect game! Deal with it!] Line up and grab your rakes, pards, it will be (I promise you) an event not to be missed.
Theme music: Weird Al Yankovic’s LIVING IN AN AMISH PARADISE.

PLAYING THE ACTUAL GAME, COLD WARS 2002 and 2003

Most of my recollections are of 2002.  I’m pretty sure in 2003, the bad guys won.  If memory serves we ran this Friday night.  We had a full crew, though could have made room for 1-2 more. I remember we were located in the Distelfink ballroom at the Lancaster Host, location of Cold Wars 2002.    We were right up front next to the front doors, and I showed up wearing an Amish Hat and beard, and a Hawaiian shirt.  Bob G. wasn’t into the costume thing and showed up in classic Hawaiian.  I bought a shoo-fly pie to award to the winner.    Bob explained the rules to players not familiar with the Bootleggers rules, and we started.  It went pretty smoothly.

Almost immediately I was tapped on the elbow.  It was Del Stover, at that point working in outreach and ‘marketing’ for HMGS East (as we were known in that bygone era).   Del was escorting a reporter from the local newspaper around, he said, and he was wondering if I would take OFF my Amish hat.  “To the devil with you!” I started to say, and then he said “I”m begging you.”  Well, dammit.  If you put it that way.. I’d been “Meeked”.  ARF Player John Camarano, however, had no such compunctions and happily put on the hat until the reporter left.   On a humorous note, the reporter was looking at the PEL and spied “The Amish Rake Fight” was set to run that night, while she was there.  “What’s that??” She asked.  “Oh, nothing, nothing…” squeaked Del, not wishing to create an incident that would create fear and loathing for HMGS in the local Amish community.   “Here, let me take you to this fine Napoleonics game…”  “NO.. I want to see the Amish Rake Fight, that sounds CUTE!” said the reporter.  So not only did they show up, they featured us in their article rather prominently, much to Del’s consternation (at the time.. he has since said he should not have worried so much).  Quote “Hell, *I* should have worn the damned hat!”  That was then, this is now.. it’s funny how people take things.  Almost everyone walking by laughed uproariously at this concept, but  I well remember the look of shock and horror from one historically-leaning GM that wasn’t a fan of “silly” games.. he must have been driven bonkers at the prospect of an Amish Skirmish game!  Seems funny now.

As mentioned already, the game scenario was fairly complex with many factions. Essentially, some tourists have stumbled on a dark secret of the Amish and were taking pictures. The Elders objected, a scuffle ensued, and to the amazement of the onlookers, the Amish grabbed farming implements and proceed to open up a can of whup-ass on the tourists. Only one got away to raise the hue and cry at the local biker bar– Zinks Route 30 Tavern. Big Paul and his surly crew thought they’d have a little fun and “get some payback” so his group of bikers lurched into motion under the guidance of John Camarano (our esteemed NOVAG presidente).

Meanwhile, a group of nefarious “corporate board members” were on 
their way with some “Union Enforcers” to “break up this mess.. 

YHN taking the lead as GM; this was before the notorious hat incident.  Bob G. is in the right rear corner of this photo.  To my right are the lead Amish Players, John Camarano and Cleo Hanlon


The little Amish Roadside market was a scene of carnage and  destruction… the board barrelled down the road in their trucks,  intent on pushing their weight around. A “meek”, a class of Amish ‘fighter’ that does not physically attack but has a ‘fleeting sense of shame’ effect that makes the opposing player drop his weapons and apologize (which we make the player do, publicly and loudly) stepped out into the road, but was callously ridden down by Ricky Retardo the driver.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. Bob resolves a fine point of game mechanics with some Amish players

As in the playtest, this caused the  ultimate demise of the truck, which lost control after encountering an Amish Self-immolater (a sort of “suicide bomber” equipped with a fertilizer bomb) crashed into the market.

Courtesy of the Bob Giglio Collection. Route 30 minutes before the sacrifice of an Amish Self-Immolater. You can just make him out to the right of the grey wagon in the center, holding the barrel. A fuel truck was inbound, and the explosion would crater Route 30.  You can see a mixture of Amish and modern vehicles in this shot. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

While the occupants sat there, stunned, the Amish descended on them with scythes, rakes,  clubs and buggy whips. It wasn’t pretty.

The Amish Battlefield. The Big Barn, with the Amish rolling out secret weapons, and the terrified tourists in the front lot running. Click HERE for a larger view

Meanwhile, back up at the main barn, the battle had indeed been joined. Big Paul and his goons made a foot sortie across the bridge, and got stopped by a meek (BTW, John Camarano did a magnificient job of grovelling when he failed his morale check). The third, and smallest, Amish faction was in the process of doing a human “Frogger” game while running across Route 30. The last buggy got “clipped” by a speeding car but emerged only shaken. Unfortunately, one of the two Amish Self-immolaters got ridden down at that moment, by a fuel 
truck of all things. The ensuing blast caused a crater in Route 30,  stopping traffic in both directions. A group of ‘gamers’ from a local gaming convention, just back from eating at a local all-you-can-eat, were attracted to the noise and pursued the third group of Amish. 

Cleo Hanlon, NOVAG newsletter editor and later HMGS Newsletter editor, and best Amish player. She spectacularly took out a State police chopper with a cow flung from a cowtapault.

Cleo Hanlon (one of our newsletter editors from NOVAG– she had  bought a bonnet to play the game with, which I thought to be a superb touch) wheeled out the giant Cowtapault. She was defending the big barn area. Her first launch hit a tree. Her second smacked into the side of one of the approaching vehicles. Another bounced in the lane. Her LAST shot, though, hit the side of a Pennsylvania State Trooper police helicopter, forcing it to make an emergency landing.  Our howls of glee could be heard from one end of the Distlefink to 
the other.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. Action Mid Game. This shows the entire battlefield with all buildings. The BoD have arrived upper left.  CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Brother Dave ran the last attack group, which contained the Harrower  of Death and the Mennonite in Black. He engaged the Union enforcers at the base of the hill in an unequal contest, but held his own. Coincidentally, he was also running John Book, who manfully rammed the oncoming pickup with a “borrowed” corvette, took some wounds, and  wisely beat feet out of the melee.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. Dave Bullis (L), Amish Player, Brian and Kathy Higbee. (R) Not sure what side Brian played.

In the end, it was decided to give the victory to the Amish, who had successfully defended their lands and way of life (for a while). It  was no contest, we awarded the shoofly to Cleo. Best Yorkist player:  John Camarano, who displayed childlike glee with the windup monster truck the goons were running.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. Close to endgame, 2002. Here come the State Cops, run by Dewey. Just prior to the Cowtapault Coup.

From the Bob Giglio Collection. This was Endgame 2002. I’m on the left helping Sister Cleo set up her cowtapault, Bob helps the State Cop player on the right.

PEL Listing, 2003 Game

2003  Game Title: ARF2 (AMISH RAKE FIGHT) – The Wrath of Lapp!Game Hosts/GMs: Brother Robert Giglio, Brother Walter O’Hara, and Brother Cornelius Brennan (NOVAG)Sponsor/Prize: RLBPS (Bob Bowling) – Prizes TBA, but overall winner gets a Shoo-Fly-Pie (No substitutions!)Game Description:It’s back…by very popular demand…ARF! When the smoke finally cleared from last spring, the Lancaster Valley stood safe from greedy, unscrupulous developers. Now a new threat looms, as the Lancaster tourism craze hits a new low, and the truce the local Brothers of the Staw Hats and Highwater Pants signed with the Board of Development (BoD) isn’t worth the cow patty it was written on. So grab your rake and come on down for another reminder that ‘War is Heck,’ just “thee be careful amongst deem English!”[PC Advisory: It’s a game, stupid! A very politically incorrect game! Deal with it! Special Requirements: Adults only – must be willing to live with the idea that someone, somewhere, for some reason in our overly PC culture, may be offended by this event. Recommended – players with Amish clothing – to facilitate enjoyment of game!] Theme music: Weird Al Yankovic’s LIVING IN AN AMISH PARADISE.Scale: 25mm Skirmish (man-to-man)

Rules: “O Brother, Hold Still While I Must Smite Thee” (Home Rules modified from – Bootlegger Rules by Steve Barber Models)

Period: Modern (i.e., 2003 to everyone but, the Amish, it’s 1842 for them!)

Players: 8

Game Time & Length: Saturday Noon, 4 hrs

For Cold Wars 03, we wanted to create a sequel of sorts, where the Amish marched on the host and we had a giant altercation in the Host Lobby between gamers, golfers and Amish people.  It didn’t work out.  We could have made the terrain easily enough but there just aren’t that many golfing and gamer figures out there, and it would have been difficult to kit-bash this.  So we ran the basic game described again one more time, with different players.  In this game, the bad guys (spearheaded by Tim Mullen if memory serves) were VERY aggressive and managed to destroy three Amish Buildings, which made them the clear winners.   I never took any pictures of this game, either.

Bob recollects:

We also had players in costume for that one. If you recall, two guys dressed in overalls, straw hats, and barefoot, etc., came down the stairs and we just laughed, as they were two of our players. Also, and most importantly, the 2003 game saw an Amish family come by, look at the game (and have a long chat with Neil Brennan), and smiled very, Very wide (and wickedly), as they “got it”, and laughed at the “fun” aspect of it. That for me, was priceless!

I remember those guys!  They were brothers from the Central PA area and they really knew the Amish lifestyle.  I haven’t seen them in ten years.   They used to be convention regulars.

The never run 2004 game

Our concept for this was that the Amish were going to “take the war” to the Board of Development (at the Lancaster Host of course), so the next day they show up, and wail on first a pack of golfers, and then on the big gang of golfers, goons and gamers at the hotel.  I was a bit daunted by the idea of terrain for this, but in retrospect, I think we could have managed a hotel lobby and a big of golf course easily enough.  The figures for golfers and gamers would have been a challenge.

Bob recalls:

Since I did the bulk of the terrain for these, and since the idea was to have the Amish “assault the Lancaster Host” during the time one of the conventions was being run, I would have had to have a decent model of part of the Host in 28mm. Not to mention all the gamer figs, golf carts, etc.

Now, unknownest to you, I found the gamer figs at one of the GenCons/Origins I attended. They were all from the Knights of the Dinner Table range in miniature. This range was perfect, and had gamers in all body types, from pointy nosed to very wide bellies, and even in a wheelchair. Just what I needed and priceless! However, they were very expensive (about $3 USD or more per figure). I also found a golfcart that fit perfectly, but never went back for more (I think these were in the toy section of WalMart, Target or Toys R Us way back).

To this I can add the fact that I had also found pencil sharpener golf carts that were a bit large, but would have fit as background objects.   I still see the problem of golfers and gamer miniatures being a limiting factor.   Since we didn’t want to just reprise 02 and 03 for a third year in a row, the game ran out of steam until such time as we have a new story to tell.

Conclusion:

So that is my Great Amish Rake Fight narrative.  In retrospect, this was one of my best games, ever, even if it only ran a couple of times– why?  Because it kind of took the mindset that “history games have to be serious” and blew a big, noisy raspberry at it.  In fact, the folks at the Society of Daisy presented us with a medal for our efforts at adding a little levity into wargaming.  This was “The Daisy Medal”, which I am a proud recipient of.    I wish I had more photographs of this game, I really do.  I was quite pleased with it,  but as usual for those days was more busy running things then trying to create a giant ARF archive– so a lot of data has been lost.  The only web-gallery that had pictures went belly up years ago, and now all I can extract from the wayback machine are the three big pictures you see here.   If any gamer out there ever took pictures of these two games, please consider sharing them with me.  I’ll give you credit. As for other artifacts, I had the rule changes to Bootleggers riding in my email account for a long time but I can’t find it any more .   Shrug!  it’s the journey, not the destination.

Epilog:

Many years later, maybe 2009 or so, I was wandering the Exhibitor’s Hall at a HMGS convention, when I bumped into Howard Whitehouse.  We exchanged pleasantries and noticed that the the exhibitor vending a Seven Years War miniatures line right in front of us surely looked … Amish!  I made a pointed observation (to Howard) that it’s puzzling how a non-violent people would play with so-called “war toys”.  “Excuse me,” a voice drawled next to my elbow, “But I’ve never heard of metal figures hurting anybody!”  It turned out to be the Amish figure manufacturer… and he WAS Amish, not Mennonite, from a relaxed order that allowed for him to go out amongst us English.  Howard blithely mentioned ARF in passing and my association with it to the guy.  He blinked, swiveled and asked: “You’re Walt O’Hara, then?  You put on the Amish Rake Fight?” “Y-y-yes.. but let me point out, it was fairly sympathetic to the Amish, actually, and I…” He cut me off.  “We’ve heard of YOU.. we thought it was HILARIOUS!!!” he clapped my back and gave me his email address(!) to send pictures and a write up to.  That was a funny encounter.  The ONE GROUP I thought wouldn’t EVER find out about the Amish Rake Fight would be the Amish themselves.  But they have ears everywhere…. everywhere….

You be careful among them English!

.(2016 Update: Bob provided a bunch of supplemental material to this post, which can be viewed HERE.)

Won’t be making Cold Wars 2014


Image

Sadly, I won’t be making COLD WARS 2014 at all this year.  I had some conflicts that took precedence.  So, sadly, no convention recap post,  either!  Have fun everyone!

Cold Wars 2014: There’s an APP for that!


I’m starting the “last minute” updates for COLD WARS 2014 Guidebook App.  I just added all schedule additions SINCE January 10 (the PEL update).  I also added Room Layouts and Tournaments.  I have YET to add Exhibitor Lists.   I have no idea who is a vendor at Cold Wars 2014 at the moment, so it will have to wait until the Convention leadership sends me more information.

I really don’t need to post another “This is how Guidebook works and how you use it” post, there’s about 7 on this blog already and the method doesn’t change much, just the data.  Go to the HISTORICON 2013 post on this subject if you need help.

Yessir, there’s an app for that. CLICK ON THIS POSTER to go to the Cold Wars 2014 Landing Page, to download YOUR copy.

Guidebook App for Cold Wars 2014 (first draft) uploaded


If you’re familiar with this blog at all, you’ve seen me post on the Guidebook App for mobile devices before, so I will spare you any verbiage extolling its virtues.  Suffice to say that the Guidebook App acts like a mobile version of a convention booklet, and it can ride on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.  I think it’s incredibly handy for attending hobby conventions!   For a good “This is what Guidebook is and how it works for an HMGS convention” post, please read the one I did for HISTORICON 2012.  There’s no reason to retype it at this juncture– if you have used it before, you already know about it, if you haven’t, most of your questions will be answered there.

COLD WARS 2014 (background):  For the last seven conventions or so, HMGS has been providing a free mobile app for our conventions called GUIDEBOOK. Guidebook is an event app that assists a convention attendee in making the most of their time by viewing crucial event information on a mobile device of some kind– iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android or any smartphone that can load a web browser. Guidebook contains the schedule of all gaming events at a HMGS convention– listed by date, time and with the Event Number on your ticket in the Title. The description of the event will have your event’s room and table number as well. Guidebook will supply maps of every room being used at the convention site (with table layouts) including an overview map that shows where all the rooms are in relation to each other. Every guidebook supplies a list of exhibitors with their table/booth number included and an Exhibitor Hall vendor layout diagram. Guidebook can be a very useful method of making the most of your precious time at a HMGS Con– it will even help you build your own personal schedule and alert you when your next event is coming up.

Up until Fall-In! 2013, we put the Guidebook app up for download a week or two before the convention.  For 2013, FI Convention Director Dan Murawski wanted to get Guidebook out on the street “early and often”, and I supported that.  The difference was noticable– normally we have plenty of “free downloads” left by the time of the actual convention, at Fall-IN! 2013 we had exactly 3 left.  Perhaps you’re saying “so what?” but in terms of numbers, that’s about 1/3 of the attendees using a mobile guide for the convention, and that’s a trend I like to think is transformative.  For Cold Wars 2014, I’m also putting it out as early as I can.  The version you can download today (as of: 1/14/2014) will have the following: Event schedule up to the PEL listing, Seminars, and basic convention information (location, theme, hours, etc).  It will NOT have: Maps and Room layouts (these show up late after they are finalized), Exhibitor List (usually the week before the con), Hobby University information, and Tournaments (I have the first cut (I think), but translating it to guidebook is a tedious exercise and you should see it sometime in the next couple of weeks).   As usual, don’t sweat it if your Guidebook App is missing something or has placeholder information in it.. I’ll be updating it when the information gets to me and you have to do exactly nothing beyond going online and opening it up to update it.  Guidebook will tell you when to download updates.

To recap, some elements will be added as we approach the convention– when an update occurs, again, you need do nothing. The next time you open up the COLD WARS 2014 guidebook, it will prompt you with “Your Guidebook has been updated! Download Updates now?” or words to that effect. Download the changes and you will be able to see them immediately– Guidebook takes care of it for you.

Instructions:

(you may skip this first step if you already have the Guidebook App on your mobile device)

To get a copy of the Cold Wars 2014 Guidebook:

Using the QR graphic:

QR Code to download Guidebook to your mobile device.

QR Code to download Guidebook to your mobile device.

Step 1 – Download a QR reader for your device

Step 2 – Get Guidebook by opening your device’s web browser and visiting guidebook.com/getit

or scan the QR code below using your phone’s QR scanner.

If you don’t want to go the QR route, just look for “Guidebook” app on either Itunes or Google Play.

Now that you have Guidebook on your device:

Search for guidebook files.  They are listed by date.  Scroll to March 2014.  Cold Wars should be easy to find.  The Guidebook Icon for CW 2014 looks like this:

cw2014gb-icon

CW2104 “Landing Page” (repeats the above information)

That’s about all you need to know to get set up.  Scroll around, look at the schedule, and start building your personal convention schedule for Cold Wars 2014.

Have fun and I’ll see you at the con.  Got any questions?  Ask me on here or on TMP.  Ciao

Guidebook for HISTORICON 2013 available for download


The HISTORICON 2013 Guidebook app is NOW available for download as of 6:30 this evening. 7/11/13.  Follow instructions below.

The HISTORICON 2013 LANDING PAGE is here:
http://guidebook.com/g/3vcidah7

There’s directions on how to load it on your phone there.

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) is holding our annual Summer convention, HISTORICON, on 18-21 July 2013.  You can get in a big chunk of miniatures/SF/Historical tabletop gaming at this convention, and the Guidebook can help.

Just like before every con I make one of these for, this post is a short introduction to Guidebook, how to get it and how to use it for YOUR convention.

The screens are a little different on my Ipad, but the basic functions are the same no matter what platform you are using.  Don’t mind all the Cold Wars 2013 pictures and references, the information is essentially the same– I’m too lazy to take a bunch of pictures again for no good reason.

Front Page of the Ipad layout. The Menu is up the left side.  This is the “General Info” page, with the director’s blurb, address, etc.

First of, what is GUIDEBOOK?  This is an application, or “App” in modern parlance, that resides on a multitude of mobile devices (Ipad, Ipod, Iphone, Android smartphones, Android Tablets, and there’s even a version for browser enabled phones that can access the web).  GUIDEBOOK maintains a master schedule of every thing going on at a convention, Maps where everything is, general information about the convention,  plus maintaining a custom version of your own schedule that keeps a list of all the things you want to do when you go to a convention.. and reminds you when you when it’s time to do it.  Think of it as your, extremely personalized version of the paper program guide that can store on a handy device, beeps you when it’s time to go to the next item on your schedule and keeps a to-do list for you.

This is the Main Schedule page. Note the little color bars on the left hand side of the events? They’re color coded– RED for GAMES, BLUE for Tournaments, GREEN for Seminars, PURPLE for Hobby University, and Black/No Color for Operations

Guidebook is an application for supporting conventions, trade shows and other events by hosting a version of their event schedules, layouts, maps, and special data lists on a variety of portable platforms– notably the Apple IoS products Iphone, Ipod TouchIpad, any Android phone, and any internet enabled phone that can web-browse.  In essence, Guidebook takes the important stuff out of the paper program book you all know and love and puts it on a device you may carry around with you on a regular basis.

INDIVIDUAL BANNERS:
Each event on the schedule has a banner associated with it.  This will display on the top of the item you are looking at and everyone can see it.  These individual banners fall in the general groupings of GAMES (run by GMs), TOURNAMENTS, HOBBY UNIVERSITY, SEMINARS (programs) and OPERATIONS (general situational awareness stuff about hours of operations).  Individual look like this:


Any tournament game, including DBA, FoW, FoG, etc.

Press Conferences, Podcast events and Seminars

Nuts and bolts of the Convention.. when areas like the flea market open and close

Hobby University events

Regularly scheduled games

(A selection of event banners)

Directions on how to get and use GUIDEBOOK

The various links associated with these instructions are located on Guidebook’s GET THE APP webpage

Maps Page. Scroll right and left in the blue bar. Every room at the venue we are using is here, laid out for the convention.

Here’s some screenshots of individual event listings in each category

A GAME event
Selecting an event to put on your personal schedule, and the length of the alarm notification

If you have an Ipod Touch, Iphone, or Ipad 1 or 2, visit the Itunes App Store, for the Guidebook app.  Download it. Install it.  It’s free.  Then “Search for events” and located HISTORICON 2013.  Download that guide.   There you go, that’s all you need to do.  Start browsing and bookmarking events you want to go to.

If you have an ANDROID phone, go to the Google Play store or some other outlet for Android OS apps.  Look up GUIDEBOOK. Download the app.  It’s free. Then “Search for events” and located HISTORICON 2013.  Download that guide, and browse away.

Vendor list in the new layout
This is our vendor listing. It’s pretty simple.

If you have an INTERNET CAPABLE, but not Android or IoS phone, you can point your phone’s browser to this web link: http://m.guidebook.com  You will see a less graphical interface but it will contain the same amount of information as the other two platforms (IoS and Android).  Even nicer, when you use a web browser phone, it doesn’t count against our download limit.

I just sent the guidebook in to Guidebook.com, and it is currently being proofread by the Guidebook technical folks for final release and download.

ONCE YOU HAVE THE APP INSTALLED (Somewhere)

  1. Open it.  Do a “Search for Guidebooks”
  2. Find: HISTORICON 2013.  (they list them chronologically)
  3. Select HISTORICON 2013 for download.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Then open it up.  And enjoy Guidebook Goodness.

Anyway, that should contain everything you want to know for HISTORICON 2013– Gaming Events with maps and table numbers, show hours, location, Exhibitors with table numbers, Tournaments, the works.

IF THE INFORMATION CHANGES, up to and DURING the convention, that will be communicated to me by Bill Rutherford, or some other events person, and I will make the changes on the server, which will be communicated to the users as an update to the Guidebook ready for download.  You don’t have to do anything but hit “yes”.

Have fun, and I hope this is useful for you.  I’ll see you at HISTORICON 2013!

Disclaimers:

I did not program the actual app GUIDEBOOK software, just prepared the HISTORICON 2013 data module for free use.  I’m not an employee of Guidebook.com and don’t get paid to endorse them.  Use at your own risk.

Ten Years of Convention Reports


Sidebar-3PoS-ConsI’ve been blogging, for better or worse, since late 2004.  During that time, I’ve been a steady attendee of conventions, and most of them have been conventions put on by the Historical Miniature Gaming Society (HMGS), but also some smaller local cons here and there.  I have always done a long or short commentary of the conventions I attend– sometimes a short 1 page post, sometimes multi-part postings with lots of internet media hosting.    After posting the latest Cold Wars AAR, it struck me that I have a sizable collection of posts on the subject of gaming conventions; I have created a history (of sorts) over the years.  Mind you, it’s a very chatty  and gossipy history, with the elements that amused me personally over the years.  I admit it, my sense of humor has ofttimes been described as “quirky” over the years, so fair warning.  In any event, to see all these AARs in one place, there is a collection of blog links on the left hand column of Third Point of Singularity.  See the graphic.

I have to warn you in advance, some of the earliest posts have link and picture references that are no longer online; there’s not much I can do about that.  Many of those pictures are simply lost when the free picture host they were hosted upon went bust.  Also, my writing style has evolved over the years; I notice that they grew fairly wordy there in the middle of the 2000s and now are far more succinct (but feature more media bits.. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement or not).  As always, my opinions are my own, and do not reflect those of any organization or club.

With that said, if you want a sort of window on gaming conventions, and more specifically, HMGS conventions over a ten year period, help yourself.

The Cold Wars 2013 GM Awards


GAME MASTER AWARDS – Cold Wars 2013

From the HMGS Academy of Historical GamingThe Historical Miniatures Gaming Society congratulates the Game Master (GM) awardees selected by their peer GM’s for Cold Wars 2013.

The HMGS Game Master  Awards program is intended to recognize GMs for convention events which encourage others, and exemplify the highest qualities of the Historical Miniatures Gaming hobby.  Thanks to ALL of our dedicated GMs for their personal contribution and selfless efforts at Cold Wars 2013.

1. Best of Show:  Joe Swartz and NOWS for their Boudica series‐ “Destruction of IX Hispania,” “Fort Verulamium,” and “Battle of Watling Street”(28mm Ancients).

2. Best “Warrior Women” Theme Event: Pete Panzeri and Bob Kerstetter for their Queen Elizabeth I series‐ “Elizabeth at Sea: Stop the Armada July 1588,”“Elizabeth I at War: The Longest Day, 1588,” and “Elizabeth I at War: A Bridge Too Far 1588.”

3. ‘Pour Encourager Les Autres’ (PELA) Awards:
Selected from all historical miniatures events throughout the Convention:

  • “Advance to Longueval,14 July 1916” by Phillip Gibbons, Joe Brimer, Ron Bingham, and Battle Barn of Williamsburg (25mm WWI).
  •  “Clash in the Fulda Gap: 1985 What If” by Chris von Fahnestock and Claudius von Fahnestock (1/285 micro Modern).
  •  “The Realm of Logres‐ An Arthurian Adventure” by Will Nesbitt and Andy Birtle (25mm Fantasy).
  •  “Buccaneer Wars” by Matt Pierce, Brian Whitaker, and WAGS (28mm Age of Piracy).
  •  “Raisin River, 22nd January 1813” by Bob Lehman (54mm War of 1812).
  •  “Further Adventures of the League of Pear Shaped Gentlemen” by Thomas
  • Harris, Frank Chadwick, and the Band of Gamers (25mm Colonial).
  •  “Joan of Arc and the Battle of Jargeau” by John Spiess and Erin Spiess (28mm Medieval).
  •  “A Not So Quiet Day on the Eastern Front: World War II” by Bob Burnham and WAGS (15mm WWII).
  •  “Raze Rohan” by Brad Ireland (28mm Fantasy).
  •  “Mayhem in Another Village” by Mark Young, Matt Pierce, and WAGS (28mm Modern).
  •  “Siege of Vienna 1683” by Troy Turner and Bill Miller (15mm Pike and Shot).
  •  “Let the Westphalians Play!” by John Snead and Triangle Simulation Society (28mm Napoleonic).
  •  “Mount Badon‐ c.500 A.D.” by John McBride and David McBride (15mm Dark Ages).
  •  “The Noose Tightens, Maryland 1813” by Scott Landis and Rogues (15mm War of 1812).

6. HMGS Legion of Honor Battle Stars: A “Recognition Award” selected for achievement by members of the HMGS Legion of Honor:

7. GM Award Judging Teams are veteran GM’s led by previous award winners, all of whom devote their personal convention time as volunteers. GM Judges for Cold Wars 2013 included Don Manser, Bill Rutherford, Tim Broome, Bob Henderson, Cliff Brunken, Frank Luberti, Rich Fisher, Michael Fijalka, Frank Sciulli, Joe Swartz, Phil Gibbons, Glenn Kidd, Russ Lockwood, Christin Sciulli, and Brian Cusick.

We apologize for any inaccurate data or oversights and strongly encourage all GMs to volunteer and support the program.  Club groups and award winners are especially welcome as judging teams. To sign‐up to help with our next convention, please email the Awards Committee Chair at:  awards@hmgs.org

Winner’s Galley

“Further Adventures of the League of Pear Shaped Gentlemen” by Thomas Harris, Frank Chadwick, and the Band of Gamers (25mm Colonial).

“Joan of Arc and the Battle of Jargeau” by John Spiess and Erin Spiess (28mm Medieval).

“Raisin River, 22nd January 1813” by Bob Lehman (54mm War of 1812).

“The Battle of Bushy Run 1763” by Cliff Brunken and Del-Val Gamers.

“Mayhem in Another Village” by Mark Young, Matt Pierce, and WAGS

“Siege of Vienna 1683” by Troy Turner and Bill Miller (15mm Pike and Shot).

“The Noose Tightens, Maryland 1813” by Scott Landis and Rogues (15mm War of 1812). Not holding the bag this time, Scott!

“Mount Badon- c.500 A.D.” by John McBride and David McBride (15mm Dark Ages).

“Let the Westphalians Play!” by John Snead and Triangle Simulation Society (28mm Napoleonic).

“Advance to Longueval,14 July 1916” by Phillip Gibbons, Joe Brimer, Ron Bingham, and Battle Barn of Williamsburg (25mm WWI).

Best of Show: Joe Swartz and NOWS for their Boudica series- “Destruction of IX Hispania,” “Fort Verulamium,” and “Battle of Watling Street”(28mm Ancients).

“Battle of Shubra Khit (Napoleon in Egypt)” by David Kasper and NOWS (28mm Napoleonic)

“Buccaneer Wars” by Matt Pierce, Brian Whitaker, and WAGS (28mm Age of Piracy).

Clash in the Fulda Gap:1985 What If” by Chris von Fahnestock and Claudius von Fahnestock (1/285 micro Modern).

The Realm of Logres- An Arthurian Adventure” by Will Nesbitt and Andy Birtle (25mm Fantasy)

“Raze Rohan” by Brad Ireland (28mm Fantasy)

A Not So Quiet Day on the Eastern Front: World War II” by Bob Burnham and WAGS (15mm WWII)

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Cold Wars 2013 weekend


(Note this will feature several “Audio Moments” recorded from an App called Audioboo. The audioboo app uses Flash so your browser should be flash enabled to see features of this post.  I am aware that pictures taken on an Ipad and hosted on Photobucket.com often display upside down, and am trying to figure out a fix.).

Cold Wars is the Spring event of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, a four day show held at the Lancaster Host, Lancaster PA.   I heard a good comment at the show: ” It’s always Winter when I driver up to Cold Wars and Spring when I drive back“. It sure seemed that way to me on Thursday on the way up– snow on the ground when I left, and 50 degrees when I returned.  I had to economize a little bit going up to the show and take my wife’s Subaru.  Economics has a big impact on show attendance, and the price for a gallon of gas on the East Coast is nothing to sneeze at these days– I’d rather drive a car with 30+ mpg than that giant van of mine.

Audio Moment on Thursday

I work staff on HMGS shows, and I have for more than a decade, including a stint as a Cold Wars director in the distant past. So upon arrival I helped with set up and installation, until we were at the point where we were ready to open the doors and take money.  Standard Thursday chores.

Audio Moment Thursday night:

I have no idea of what pre-registration numbers were for Cold Wars 2013, but the registration area (The Wheatland Room at the Host) was fairly mobbed Thursday night. HMGS uses a registration system that for better or worse uses a cloud system to store and process data remotely. The only drawback is the obvious one: when you can’t get on the Internet, you can’t perform the most basic functions to register people for conventions. You guessed it, the hotel couldn’t connect us to the Internet Thursday night and we were a half hour delayed getting set up. The process of registering someone for a convention, selling them t-shirts, etc. is multi-stepped and complex; I was a little nervous jumping in after an absence of a considerable amount of time, but for once it wasn’t an issue, I picked up on it on the first try. I guess I’m getting used to it. It was a drag for the people waiting in line, but again, not much HMGS could have done about it, the internet connection was pretty miserable throughout the hotel for the weekend and that impacted how we run the show.

Registration Hijinks. As always HMGS is blessed with a crowd of great people who make this essential process go as smoothly as it can, given the technology at hand. I have no idea who that mug in the picture is.. what an introvert.

I was not crazy about my schedule, which you may here me whining about here and there in the audio snippets. I usually work morning shifts and have the afternoon free to game and shop with. For some reason I was on the PM shift throughout, so had to get gamng in where I could.

Computers finally up and running, we get the machinery in motion for another show.

Thursday has been a non-event in the past; now people arrive earlier and take advantage of the extra time to schedule and play events in the evening after registration. There were a few regularly scheduled gaming events, including a tournament for Thursday evening.

It cannot be denied that the pastel pink “Woman Warriors” shirt was a hit. HMGS sold out of it entirely in the lower sizes. Are we confronting our feminine side at long last?

I wanted to get together a Cosmic Encounters game but had no takers. So it goes. One has to be realistic about these things, to quote Logan Nine Fingers. I did end up in a typical destination for Thursday and had a beer with some friends. Or two. As you can see.

Audio Moment:

FRIDAY

Friday’s schedule was from 1230 to 6PM; not much opportunity to do anything in the shopping line (the dealer hall opened at noon, Wally’s Basement at 2PM). So I had a (meatless, for Lent) breakfast, which can be a challenge in Lancaster, and did a quick run through of the dealer’s room, figuring 20 minutes would be better than nothing. I picked up exactly what I wanted, which was a SLAVE ONE ship and another A-wing from the Star Wars miniature game which I had  a specific need for.

Friday Games:

Great dungeon terrain in the Paradise room.

Yes, this impressed the heck out of me.

Space Station Acipiter, using 1930s Buck Rogers flat miniatures

Working on the desk was a real chore. The internet was intermittent which caused severe problems with registration. When your organization relies on the Cloud computing concept, and the connection to the cloud goes South, well, you make the connection. No reg system, doing everything by hand and then updating the reg and POS systems later when the internet comes back. 3 x the labor.

Audio moment, Friday

The Wally’s Basement for Friday was truncated, but very packed. The first session opened up to the usual stampede of customers, as you can see from this action packed footage.

I actually got a break to run down and do a pass through.. and found a homemade casemate ironclad (made of wood) for my 15mm boat game, Big Danged Boats. Very reasonable!

I’m not any judge of these things, really, but I do know that conventions where the lines don’t stop until the end of shift usually indicate a good attendance.  Not finding an spot easily in the parking lot is a good indication, too.  I noticed both of those things.

After shift, I grabbed a not-quick vegetarian dinner at the restaurant at the Host.

Hint: it was covered with cheesey goo and involved onions.

F-144 Caesar vs. Pluck: Bellum Ruritanicum 72 AD

Friday night’s game started at 1900, and was run by Jeff Wasileski, one of the better GMs out there. Jeff’s scenario used SCIENCE VERSUS PLUCK with a Roman patina. This is a set of rules that encourages player repartee first and charts and tables last. We all played roles.. I ended up taking Domitian, the second son of the Emperor Vespasian, who is touring Ruritanicum right about the time of a giant revolt. Howard, the author of the rules, was also there playing the Auger, and later on the role of Domitia, the newly wedded bride of Domitian.

SLIDESHOW: F-144 Caesar versus Pluck
F-144 Caesar versus Pluck

This game was a ton of fun, maybe the best thing I’ve played in a while. With Howard Whitehouse as the Auger, Steve Winter playing the ambitious yet unlucky Governor caught in a veritable avalanche of Ruritani, and an assorted list of other players who got in to the spirit of things, this game was a blast. I played Domitian as an upperclass bloody-minded twit with a speech impediment. He kept sending notes to other players with crude pictures of slave galleys on them, and arrows pointing to the oar banks and YOU scrawled over it. We had fun. The results really weren’t very important, but the experience was. A fun time!

More Friday Games:

The Giant Castle Siege game to our left. It looked really spiff. And it won an award!

More siege..

Ladder party

Yay! I won an award!

Check it!

Nancy Ott running some cool Spartan/Greek thang!

Tomb Raiding!

SATURDAY

S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021

Since I once again had to work Saturday, my original plans for gaming were flushed down the toy-toy and I had to shop for something to play in the AM. And I found a great one. I played a game called S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021, which was an opportunity to play Tomorrow’s War (Ambush Alley games) for the first time, even though I got it for Christmas (thanks, Honey!). I like 15mm Science Fiction and am always looking for a good rules set. Tomorrow’s War is essentially another game called Force on Force but with a SF overlay. I liked it in general, but found the tech level differences caused a severe impact on what my units could do. As we were native insurgents with a lower tech level, we were rolling 1D6 a lot to conduct combat actions. The invading earth people were another tech level and they rolled 1d8s a lot. That’s a difference of my 3.5 average versus a 4.0 average, and a little bit means a lot. Our side (the rebels) had some early success but the only way to keep from being annihilated was to keep a steady stream of replacements moving into combat. We learned that we couldn’t’ gain initiative easily unless the other side rolled badly, and if we fired second we usually got killed. So we tried not to fire if we could. Oddly enough, I had to leave a little earlier than other players but it turns out we did win!

A slideshow of S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021:

S-379 Rebellion on Planet 4021

Now I’m eager to paint up some 15mm SF. Get behind me, Satan!

Audio Moment, Saturday Morning

Flush with success I went back to the reg area for my day shift, to discover that once again, we didn’t have Internet. At all. As in throughout most of the hotel. This was pretty bad. We had to go cash only for almost all of the shift; customers were understanding but it was a real drag from the perspective of trying to capture all that data.

lines…

Saturday afternoons usually are pretty slow but the added fun of all that manual entry just made it constantly busy. I was ready for my one and only trip to the dealer area (of more than twenty minutes) during the convention. I didn’t see a lot of NEW stuff, per se, but I did buy some stuff I wanted to pick up, like some SF buildings from Blue Moon, some more 15mm renn period figures, An A-Wing, some 54mm bulk lead from Iron Wind metals. I don’t know how I resisted it, but I avoided picking up the biker panties arrayed around the military Video booth with such clever bon mots as “It won’t lick itself“. It took every ounce of my resistance.

I went out for something more nourishing than the giant buffet of meat swimming in gravy, and found a salad place in the next complex over. Very reasonable and healthy food. That’s a keeper.

S415 MAD DOGS WITH GUNS

I got back in time to play in Howard Whitehouse’s evening game. Since I got there ten minutes late, I was stuck in a subsidiary role as a local town sheriff. MAD DOGS WITH GUNS is Howard’s latest epic from Pulp Adventure press. Very reminiscent of DASHING ADVENTURES, it’s more like a framework for RPG/skirmish that a serious rule set. Even Howard says so. Well, I went for it with both barrels. As a descendent of MANY serious Irish boozers from Law Enforcement, that’s how I played him.. like a relative or two. That part was fun. Sadly, some of the players were playing like the young men they were, and made it too much about shooting and killing, rather than playing their parts. So it was far more bloody than it needed to be. Still, I had a great time, playing with friends like Joey McGuire and Dennis Cunningham. Dennis Cunningham and I were local law enforcement, trying to ride heard on two different mob bootleggers, and in the pay of each one. Things did not go well, and frankly the Town cops got exterminated with extreme prejudice. So it goes. You have to be realistic about these things. 😀

Another fun Slide Show, this time of Mad Dogs with Guns:

nizzocles's Story

And that was my Saturday.. we played until 11 or so but I got killed out of the game. I tried to get into some board games going on but there was nothing going on quick and snappy. Oh well.
I had a beer or two with Dennis and jawed a bit, and then took a few pictures, during the c0urse of which I had a chair collapse and rip my leg up.  Not the most dignified approach.

we can rebuild him

Audio Moment, Saturday Evening

Assorted Saturday Games Slideshow:

nizzocles's C7 album on Photobucket


SUNDAY

Sunday is always a tough sell for many people, as everyone is interested in packing up and leaving. I helped around the reg area and packed up stuff for the Pod. Then got released to do a little bit of shopping (bought nothing) before hitting the road.

In general, Cold Wars 2013 was a pretty good convention. I had a great time and it was just the getaway I needed this time of year. Numbers seemed high, but I really have no idea how it went. I liked the theme a lot and was kind of disappointed there weren’t more thematic games of note. More people used Guidebook this convention than any previous one, based on the metrics we got back and I attribute that to speedy assistance from Bob Van Der Kamp and the Cold Wars webmaster, where I got all my data from. As always, I’d like to thank my fellow staffers for laughing in the face of adversity, and working their asses off to make a great show. I enjoy working with you all every convention and will continue to do so until they don’t need me any more. Great job, Frank and Michelle, keep up the good work for next year.

And.. homeward:

In conclusion:

A blog post about a convention should not dwell on the high points. In the interests of objectivity and fair play, I present the TOP FIVE WORST THINGS ABOUT COLD WARS 2013, viewable here:

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Guidebook App returning for COLD WARS 2013


1900 Hrs. Update: The Cold Wars 2013 Update has been published by Guidebook.com, and is available for download.  Help yourselves!

The Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS) is holding our annual Spring convention, Cold Wars 2013, on 7-10 March 2013.  You can get in a big chunk of gaming, and the Guidebook can help.

Just like before every con I make one of these for, this post is a short introduction to Guidebook, how to get it and how to use it for YOUR convention.

The screens are a little different on my Ipad, but the basic functions are the same no matter what platform you are using.

Front Page of the Ipad layout. The Menu is up the left side.  This is the “General Info” page, with the director’s blurb, address, etc.

First of, what is GUIDEBOOK?  This is an application, or “App” in modern parlance, that resides on a multitude of mobile devices (Ipad, Ipod, Iphone, Android smartphones, Android Tablets, and there’s even a version for browser enabled phones that can access the web).  GUIDEBOOK maintains a master schedule of every thing going on at a convention, Maps where everything is, general information about the convention,  plus maintaining a custom version of your own schedule that keeps a list of all the things you want to do when you go to a convention.. and reminds you when you when it’s time to do it.  Think of it as your, extremely personalized version of the paper program guide that can store on a handy device, beeps you when it’s time to go to the next item on your schedule and keeps a to-do list for you.

This is the Main Schedule page. Note the little color bars on the left hand side of the events? They’re color coded– RED for GAMES, BLUE for Tournaments, GREEN for Seminars, PURPLE for Hobby University, and Black/No Color for Operations

Guidebook is an application for supporting conventions, trade shows and other events by hosting a version of their event schedules, layouts, maps, and special data lists on a variety of portable platforms– notably the Apple IoS products Iphone, Ipod Touch, Ipad, any Android phone, and any internet enabled phone that can web-browse.  In essence, Guidebook takes the important stuff out of the paper program book you all know and love and puts it on a device you may carry around with you on a regular basis.

INDIVIDUAL BANNERS:
Each event on the schedule has a banner associated with it.  This will display on the top of the item you are looking at and everyone can see it.  These individual banners fall in the general groupings of GAMES (run by GMs), TOURNAMENTS, HOBBY UNIVERSITY, SEMINARS (programs) and OPERATIONS (general situational awareness stuff about hours of operations).  Individual look like this:

(A selection of event banners)

HERE’S MY OFFER: You’re a GM who wants to show off your game in a unique way to make it stand out from the crowd of banners above.  You’re a vendor running a demo and want to have some game art in your event banner.  You’re a tournament GM who wants to display the art of the rules you will be using… whatever scenario you can think of…  If YOU want a unique banner for your event, I’ll be happy to include it into this package.  Even though the Guidebook for 2013 has been sent in for publishing review, I can change it right up to and DURING the Cold Wars 2013 convention.  So all you have to do is this–  Design and implement a graphic sized 640 x 400 pixels, reasonably Hi-Res, and send it to me at misternizz@gmail.com.  The Subject Line must read: “Please use this banner for event number ____” (and add the number of your event).  Got that?  I’m easy to work with but don’t have time to do your art for you.  But I can help promote the game or whatever it is.

Directions on how to get and use GUIDEBOOK

The various links associated with these instructions are located on Guidebook’s GET THE APP webpage

Maps Page. Scroll right and left in the blue bar. Every room in the Host is here, laid out for the convention.

Here’s some screenshots of individual event listings in each category

A GAME event

Selecting an event to put on your personal schedule, and the length of the alarm notification

If you have an Ipod Touch, Iphone, or Ipad 1 or 2, visit the Itunes App Store, for the Guidebook app.  Download it. Install it.  It’s free.  Then “Search for events” and located COLD WARS 2013.  Download that guide.   There you go, that’s all you need to do.  Start browsing and bookmarking events you want to go to.

If you have an ANDROID phone, go to the Google Play store or some other outlet for Android OS apps.  Look up GUIDEBOOK. Download the app.  It’s free. Then “Search for events” and located COLD WARS 2013.  Download that guide, and browse away.

Vendor list in the new layout

This is our vendor listing. It’s pretty simple.

If you have an INTERNET CAPABLE, but not Android or IoS phone, you can point your phone’s browser to this web link: http://m.guidebook.com  You will see a less graphical interface but it will contain the same amount of information as the other two platforms (IoS and Android).  Even nicer, when you use a web browser phone, it doesn’t count against our download limit.

I published the guide yesterday, and it is currently being proofread by the Guidebook technical folks for final release and download.

THIS IS OUR OFFICIAL LANDING PAGE ON GUIDEBOOK, You can follow links there to get Guidebook, too.

ONCE YOU HAVE THE APP INSTALLED (Somewhere)

  1. Open it.  Do a “Search for Guidebooks”
  2. Find: COLD WARS 2013.  (they list them chronologically)
  3. Select COLD WARS 2013 for download.  This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Then open it up.  And enjoy Guidebook Goodness.

Anyway, that should contain everything you want to know for Cold Wars 2013– Gaming Events with maps and table numbers, show hours, location, Exhibitors with table numbers, Tournaments, the works.

IF THE INFORMATION CHANGES, up to and DURING the convention, that will be communicated to me by Bob Van Der Kamp, or some other events person, and I will make the changes on the server, which will be communicated to the users as an update to the Guidebook ready for download.  You don’t have to do anything but hit “yes”.

Have fun, and I hope this is useful for you.  I’ll see you at Cold Wars 2013!

Disclaimers:

I did not program the actual app GUIDEBOOK, just prepared the Cold Wars 2013 data module for free use.  I’m not an employee of Guidebook.com and don’t get paid to endorse them.  Use at your own risk.

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