Tag Archives: HISTORICON

T-574 Frostgrave, Treasure Hunting in the Frozen City!


This is an AAR of Thursday night’s game of Frostgrave, at HISTORICON 2017, put on by the masterful GM: Jeffrey Hiley.  “Masterful” is faint praise for Mr. Hiley’s terrain building skills, which put the rest of us pikers to shame.  Case in point, his Frostgrave city, an expanse upon which I have gamed in the past, sans the harbor area:

Add to this a new feature, a frozen harbor full of ships, a longish quay that had clear shooting from end to end and lots of open lines of sight everywhere, and you have some beautiful terrain that could make for some really tense moments in Frostgrave.

Frostgrave, Treasure Hunting in the Frozen City!. GM: Jeffrey Hiley. Fantasy. 28mm. Rules: Frostgrave. Amidst the frozen ruins of the ancient city Frostgrave, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the lost magics and treasures of a fallen empire. Each player will take the role of a wizard from one of the 10 schools of magic.
Leading an apprentice and hired soldiers into Frostgrave you will compete with other wizards also trying to find lost secrets. Play on custom made, award winning terrain. Kids 12 and under welcome, accompanied by an adult.
Rules taught, beginners welcome.

The Lighthouse in the Frozen Harbor.

The scenario for Treasure Hunting in the Big City sets up two teams, good and evil.   On the good side were four warbands, led by a Chronomancer, an Elementalist, a Thaumaturgist, and a Witch.  On the evil side were also four warbands each led by a Chronomancer, an Elementalist, a Witch, and a Necromancer.  The sides were very reasonably balanced.   I got the Good Chronomancer.  The GM wisely handed out pre-made warbands with pre selected spells.  This is smart– for a couple of reasons.  First, creating a Frostgrave character takes some thought and takes some time– you have to think about the kind of character you want to play and how you want to play him or her.  Offensive? Defensive?  A character that can take care of himself or others?  Or someone who can throw out fireballs with gay abandon?  Secondly, those crew rosters and figuring out point costs may be easy math, but it also eats up loads of time.  So for a convention, certainly, pre-made rosters are the way to go with Frostgrave.


My Chronomancer and his hired goons step out smartly.

My Spells were: Crumble, Fleet Feet, Decay, Elemental Bolt, Spell Eater, Mind Control, Push and Leap.   This is a good selection, for a Chronomancer.  I would probably select something similar.  The only downside is a Chronomancer’s ability to reach out and impact other groups is pretty limited.  On the other hand, the ability for a Chronomancer to influence matter is pretty good.  Crumble can bring down walls, it can make holes appear under people’s feet.  Decay can make weapons crumble into dust.  Fleet Feet is a passive bonus but it does have a benefit of extra movement for either the Chronomancer or his goons.  The other spells are mostly set up to move other things or other people distances– which helps getting treasure off the map!

Not much in the way of cover out there on the ice floes.  Great treasures, though!

If you know aught about Frostgrave, you’ll know it’s about looting, first and foremost.  The Wizards enter the frozen city, each with a specially picked team of hirelings, and they exit with as much treasure as they can carry.  In Jeff’s game there were treasure tokens all about.  Some were worth more than others– if the treasure token had a gold coin under it, then the treasure was one that implies greater risk, and thus with a greater value (of 10 VP per treasure).   Our four teams on the good side were set up with two teams on my left and one on my right.


Good witch team on my left with giant bear companion (Top). This was mirrored by the evil witch across the table with Troll mirroring Bear for the evil side (Bottom).

My starting position was more or less just a tiny bit right of center.  I was in an area of smaller medieval town buildings, next to a ramp going up to the big causeway that goes up to the big round castle.  Except for the causeway, I had clear control of a high ground with plenty of cover– the third floor of a crumbling townhouse.  Not exactly controlling the right side of the board or anything but offering up good opportunities if my opponents get careless.  I had a lot of good line of sight spells– crumble, push, decay, etc, but nothing that could hurt people from a distance except Elemental Bolt, which has a high casting cost.  So I took my archer and parked my Wizard up high in the drafty crumbling top of the house with the Archer, looking for targets, and sent out my band of thugs to gather and loot with great joy.

I wish I had a sexy tale of my wizard entering into duel with another wizard and slinging bolts and such but it wasn’t like that. I took a commanding presence as I said, and my thugs had a relatively easy time of it. This was due to terrain for the most part. There was a commanding archway directly in front of me which masked the movement of my band (and my wizard and apprentice) nicely. My thugs all got treasure except one. I made good use of my spells and they failed about a 1/3 of the time. Most of them were Fleet Feet to make my people move faster. I hardly ever had another wizard in my sights at any point, but did my best with missile fire and crumble offensively. I never bothered with Elemental Bolt (it’s not a favorite) but I do love Crumble– one of my favorite spells of the Chronomancer group. So I tried to drop a wall away from someone who was next to it and maybe get him to fall. He saved. Then I tried a PUSH on him and it failed. So in order to do a one-two on the bad guys, who were up in the citadel, I started crumbling giant holes in the wall to see IN to the citadel. I did cast a successful DECAY at that point, but that was pretty late in the game now. Oh, and I used MIND CONTROL at one point, which was a lucky roll at 14. I wanted to control a giant rampaging Owl Bear out on the ice floes that was menacing my Thaumaturgist ally, but Jeff plays with spell ranges, and I couldn’t nail him. As a consolation, I was allowed to Mind Control the troll and have him rampage against his former master. That was satisfying.

So my Wizard never really came under fire, nor did my Apprentice.  They were in position to support each other and didn’t risk themselves very much.  This in my mind is appropriate for Chronomancers– they don’t have a way of bringing a world of hurt on other people, but can make things happen.  The closest I came to taking losses was when I sent two thugs and a knight up the ramp to the causeway to grab an extra point treasure.  The knight ran across the causeway to come to grips with the enemy forces in the citadel, while my ally to the left attacked them from the rim of the citadel.  There’s something to be said for having it easy– I had a very clear hand with the loot items.  There was never much danger but the treasures were only worth ten points instead of twenty.

The guys to my immediate left definitely got into it more than I did. They lost an apprentice, but killed two of the enemy apprentices. That was our highest level casualty. The guy on my right (a Thaumaturgist with some good spells) had his hands full and saw the most combat of the entire game. He fought a troll from the enemy Witch team, then ran out on to the ice flows where the good treasure was and got into it a suddenly appearing arctic Owl Bear. So he took the most casualties from the Good side.

At the end of the day, we (the Good Wizards) had a large numerical edge in the Victory Point category.  This was a great event, very entertaining and clearly demonstrating the amount of work that went into prepping the terrain for the spectacle.

HERE is a slideshow of every Frostgrave snap I took.  There are a bunch of them.

A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight: HISTORICON 2016 AAR


HISTORICON 2016: Fredericksburg Convention Center, 13-17 July 2016

Before we begin: Well, I didn’t think I’d have to write a disclaimer since back in the days of a, erm, certain potentially litigious former board member, but it might be a good idea to state this up front. The author of this blog is Walt O’Hara. I am not on the board of HMGS and never have been. I have served HMGS as an unpaid volunteer for several years — from the mid 90s, in point of fact. During that time, I have done most jobs you can possibly do on staff, some indifferently well, some I wouldn’t touch again with a ten foot pole. I have known “the HMGS skinny” in the past, from time to time, maybe, but now is not that time. I generally have a high opinion of the board, they are working in an underappreciated position with high expectations for no pay– which is was true “back in the day” and is true now. I know both Pauls, Mike, Kevin, and Scott  by working on the same shows with them, several times (mostly– Mike and Paul D are locals and I see them now and again at Eagle and Empire). I don’t know John and Dave that well, but I have played in games they have run in the past (in Dave’s case, it was a Russian Civil War game, and it kicked butt. In John’s I think it was some Trench warfare thing with Belgians!). I do not, however, really ‘hang out’ with anyone on the BoD and I am not “in the know” by any sane definition of the term. I do take a very dim view of people who castigate a Board of Directors for being “corrupt”, “venal”, “lazy” or “criminal” simply because they chose to perform a thankless job most of us (including ME) won’t take the time or bother to do, though we all seem to have the time to complain about them.  I also take a dim view of people that condemn BOD members that make decisions that are marginally inconvenient for them, personally.  That’s just stupid, lazy logic. So with that said, I am going to warn you up front. I’m going to voice an opinion about HMGS business in this post. It’s just an opinion. Everyone has one and mine is as good or as bad as anybody’s.  So if reading opinions bores you, skip over the yellow part.  Fair warning.  There, we’re done with that. On to the fun stuff.

Convention Director Delaney addresses the troops and introducing “Will Call”

Gar and I drove down to Fredericksburg in a vehicle we affectionately call “Granny’s Sh*tbox”- an old Ford minivan she bought used back in the 90s.  It’s dull blue oxidized paint, but her previous “honest” mechanic conned her into buying a new engine and we feel honor bound to drive this revitalized crapwagon into the ground. On the plus side, it has that snazzy early era Air Conditioning, which is bonus for July in VA.  I was actually shivering.  It also has a unique automobile superpower– it’s got to be the most anonymous looking vehicle ever created.  I couldn’t remember where I parked it, constantly.

Everyone has to show for the staff meeting but that leaves the convention way overstaffed the first night, with volunteers stumbling over each other in an attempt to be helpful. I’ve worked events these last few years, but will do whatever. I like the event desk– you really are helping people do exactly what they came to the convention to do, that is play games. Seeing that we were underemployed, Brenda suggested we set up the events board that evening, and so we did.


The events desk– crazy and non stop until about 11 AM most days, then again when they put out the evening tickets.

Events is good gig, sure, it looks like all we do is hand out tickets, but we’re empowered to help people do a lot of things.. like move tables, run new events, cancel events, finding new tables, etc.  Essentially it’s the old “GM Help desk” concept folded into the events board.  I like the job because it’s really the last step to getting people into the reason they came to a convention: playing games.  Don’t ask me to comment on the registration system.  I haven’t used it yet, I can’t compare it to the last one (which I had used and  I didn’t hold in high regard).  If it has a high learning curve, I can’t comment on it.  If one person uses it slower than another, try not to complain too much.  Some people learn things faster than others.  Besides, it relies on wireless, and every venue we’re in these days has problems catching up to the 21st century in that regard.


You never know who’ll show up to these things.

Gar and I closed the events table for the night, and there not being a lot of games going on, eventually hit the sack.

Thursday was the first “public” day of the convention.  Many of the tickets for Thursday had gone out the night before and it was slim pickings that morning.  I felt pretty bad for not getting my act together in time to run an event for this convention.   For one thing, it would have sold out, easily.  For another, it feels like there just isn’t enough events being run for the space.. we could easily add 100 more to the schedule, though I wince a the noise problem that might cause.  It’s not like we didn’t start the con with a low number of events– we had 506 by my count, and that’s from the data that the events coordinator sent me for guidebook so it’s fairly accurate.  We only had about 7 cancellations and none for any shady reasons that I could detect, like getting a free GM badge.  Speaking of events, and as this is one of those topics that everyone weighs in on with their opinion, here are the ACTUAL NUMBERS OF EVENTS IN THE SCHEDULE BY CATEGORY.  As you can see here clearly, historical events outnumber non-historical events far and away, again.

(quick note on methodology, I used the database from events, sorted by category in Excel, did a COUNTA function on the categories, then totaled the resulting subtotals.  These are the categories HMGS uses in our program books and to schedule games, not mine.  I counted borderline subjects such as “Pulp” as non-historical, but Westerns and Pirates as historical, so you can juggle numbers if that doesn’t fit your particular prejudices) (edit: yeah, I  know.  I screwed up the count above and “Colonial” is in twice, but it only a matter of maybe 10 events total, if that.  I’ll fix)

A lot of people get a lot of mileage out of saying the Society is going to the dogs for running non-historical games at our conventions– that we are somehow “losing our brand” for doing so.  The actual numbers tell a very different story.

Wednesday night sightings:

Setup, not running

 Setup, not running

Thursday was incredibly busy.  This is the morning most of the weekend visitors arrive and the parking lot out front jammed up pretty fast.  Most people want registration over and done with as smoothly and painlessly as possible.  This year, to whittle down the lines, HMGS introduced “Will Call”.. essentially using your smart phone to bring up the website in line and printing badge labels directly- so you could enter with a credit card while standing at the back of the line and then cut over to Pre-Reg and find your badge made, just like a pre-reg person.  I’d like to get feedback on if it worked or how it worked, but that’s how it was described it would work.  If we go full bore on Will Call ticketing.. my only question is, why do we shut down per-registration so early, then?  This is essentially the same thing, but the day of the show, isn’t it?

Thursday Sightings

Hey, if working registration was EASY, anyone could do it!

Dinner was with Gar at BONCHON chicken Fredericksburg, and it is quite a meal.  Bonchon is a Korean style of cooking chicken with amazing results.  See below:

Portions are HUGE. We had to bring back leftovers.

Meanwhile, back at the convention, I was getting into my first official game of the convention:

Jutland – Day of the Dreadnaughts; GM: Brian Dewitt; World War I; When Dreadnaughts Ruled the Seas. The British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet showdown fought in misty North Seas conditions on May 31, 1916. The battle opened with the six British Battlecruisers chasing five German Battlecruisers. The German Dreadnoughts are out numbered but the battle is very even with both sides claiming victory.

I took many pictures of this game which took some time to unfold.  Posting them to this post would be tedious, but you can go HERE to see the slideshow.

Brian DeWitt is a local boy from Northern VA, and I’ve played his naval games many times, including these rules, When Dreadnoughts Ruled the Seas.  They are reasonably comprehensive, not “Fear God and Dread Nought” (Clash of Arms) by any means, but they play fast for all of that.  Instead of measuring THIS armor thickness versus THAT gun caliber, the rules generalize a certain threshold of firepower into categories (about 14″ or higher if I’m remembering it right).  This makes figuring out the firing sequence fast and simple.  For the JUTLAND scenario we were under some constraints that really changed the rules substantially, making the game more about hidden movement and random initial placement.  Essentially both the Germans and the English have ships on the map at start, but they are all represented as tokens with arrows on them, indicating what direction it is moving.  Both sides have many dummy counters.  As the tokens move and come within spotting distance of each other, the ships appear on the water, sometimes (as happened to us) extremely close to the Grand Fleet!    I was an honorary Briton for this game and led two squadrons led by the Iron Duke and the Benbow.

Things didn’t go swimmingly for the British from the first moment. There were six flying squadrons coming in from the Northwest (including mine) that only fired an odd angry shot at the end of the game. British gunfire was just okay, we piled on the drubbing but it wasn’t good enough to sink much of the German capital ships, though we did nail some destroyers and lighter cruisers. In return, the Germans plastered the Germans into next week. Every roll, it seemed, got a critical hit somewhere on the deck near the ammo bunkers of an English ship, and then Bang, Zing! another dead modern ship killed by an aging German tub. Life seemed stacked against the Grand fleet that day.

I took a lot of pano pictures as well, they are also in the SLIDESHOW. Click on the picture below to see the dispositions when Brian called the game. It’s a large (wide) picture and you’ll have to scroll to see all the enemy..

Click to see larger button, enemy distribution.  It will blow up to original size (and it’s a large picture).

Thursday ended with a resounding defeat for the Royal Navy, which I blame on our inability to get our line in decent shape fast enough to pound the Germans, and also terrible dice rolling.  The Germans must have rolled the “Deck Critical Hit” result 4 times.  Maybe 5.  The game ended.. even though we lost, I greatly enjoyed the chaotic nature of the Jutland game, especially the hidden/semi-hidden setup, which made for some real surprises.

Did I mention I got the historical Admiral Jellicoe killed?  Yeah, he was on the Iron Duke… sigh.

Ruefully, I had the first beer offered, which as “My Imaginary Girlfriend IPA”.. and it was tastier than the ashes of defeat.

Thursday was a busy day and night for gaming.  There was a lot of action in the side rooms, which hosted discrete gaming groups that submitted blocks of gaming events– there were games from NOVAG, HAWKS, a group of individuals that play Battletech (which my son is somewhat addicted to), a group of people who play Colonial era games, and some local gaming groups I couldn’t identify.  I like the side rooms, you can hear better and they really put on a show.

I found a HUGE Roman gaming on in one of the side rooms during Jutland:


I’m really enjoying the Panning option in digital photography. I wouldn’t recommend it for every setup of course, but it’s a handy method of capturing those really huge setups like this one. (Click on picture above to see Pano).


Garrett’s current fixation, Battletech.

So Thursday ended with Garrett and I in defeat, him in Battletech, me at Jutland. So it goes. Friday, a new day dawns and this is where we have our greatest influx of walkins, by my estimation. We reported to our shift early and were in a steady state of demand until 1 PMish. Not to polish my own apple any, but I found that the Guidebook app I built for Historicon is incredibly handy for solving problems at the events desk.

“I don’t know where this event is”
“okay, tell me something about it”
“It had Rommel in the title” (Walt brings up SEARCH, types in Rommel…)
“Starts when?”
“3 PM”
“FOUND IT! that’s table EA09. Starts in 20 minutes.”
“Great! Um, where’s that?” (Walt brings up room layout maps, finds EA, points out table)
“THERE.. right through those doors, about 30 feet up on the left.”
“Wow, great! Thanks! How did you do that, are you in league with Satan?”
“No Worries, mate.. I use… GUIDEBOOK!

Okay, maybe a little embellished but you get the point. It was faster than taking the guy there and faster than looking it up in paper books.

After my Friday shift, I went directly into:
Reds vs Whites: Retreat to the Crimea!; GM: Jared Fishman; Inter-War; FOB2 Modified. Deniken’s 1919 push on Moscow has failed. With Baron von Wrangel in charge now, the White forces are in full blown retreat towards the Crimea. In this battle, a desperate White rearguard, entrenched along a rail line, attempts to hold off combat ready Red troops who are beginning to shine on the battlefield. 15mm, lots of variety (tachankas, armored cars, White officer battalions), using modified Field of Battle 2 Rules. Can the Whites hold back the Red tide? Experience with FOB is helpful!

This was a great game. I have zero experience with Piquet, which I am assuming this “FoB system” is built upon. However, once I got the hang of it, it was pretty great. The card system isn’t just a “Sword and the Flame” like means of activation, it has a larger role– creating and managing the chaos factor on a battlefield. I really enjoyed the cerebral aspect of planning how to advance my forces using the card system. Mr. Fishman, the GM, was both patient and enthusiastic, and knew his period well.


My left flank command, mostly cavalry, veteran to crack troops, two armored cars and two tachankas. I lost the use of both fairly early.

I took a lot of risks in that game.. you never know what your opponent might draw, and most assuredly it won’t be good for you. Since I was cavalry I knew I had to react aggressively for the left flank to accomplish anything. I lost my tachankas early and my A/Cs were “silenced”.. I never drew the card combination to get them from being in a buttoned down state again. Still had men with horses, though, and I drove up the left side, supporting an infantry attack to my right. The cavalry were the glory boys that day, routing the enemy’s entire right flank thoroughly, and taking out most of his artillery. The game ended when it did, and it was kind of a draw.. we had done some damage to the enemy’s line that he had to react to, but he wasn’t dislodged in the center and our right flank didn’t accomplish much of anything. So it goes. We might have accomplished more in a few more turns, sweeping right and driving in from the enemy right flank, trying to roll him up his line, but we ran out of time. Great game!

There were a lot of rumors flying around the convention about the convention moving.. Many, many people came up to me for an opinion or comment on the issue, and I admitted I knew nothing about it.  Read the disclaimer above.   I don’t travel with the hip crowd.  I was told that tonight’s membership meeting would be important, so after going and discovering the tasty treat that was COOKOUT FREDERICKSBURG (I could write a whole post on how great that place is), we sat in the meeting.  Not that there were many seats, it was well attended.  Scott Landis presented the convention relocation reports, and he did a good job with the analysis.  The familiar scattershot diagram was presented.  Cost of tables, and Room rates were discussed.  The conclusion was that Historicon operates close to the margin.  Okay, we got that.  Then we went over some of the other options and his (Scott’s) Stoplight chart for ranking them.  Some options were brought up in the Pocanos and New Jersey.  I didn’t care for either one of them, but the undercurrent of the conversation was that they seemed to want to move Historicon for the reasons that “it was too much like the other conventions, nothing stands out any more” “it costs too much to run H’con in Fredericksburg”.

Okay, back to the opinion part, and it’s JUST MY OPINION, not that of the BOD, HMGS or any other body.  I think the hue and cry to move Historicon (of all conventions you could move) is ridiculous.  Sure there are many issues with the Fredericksburg site, there will always be issues with sites– this place is Nirvana compared to the Host.  Is there something wrong with the idea that we could have a geographic spacing of conventions in a North, Middle and South arrangement?  Who CARES about the concept of “Flagship” conventions, anyway.. if that’s your issue, make Fall-IN! the Flagship, it’s doing relatively well these days.  I personally believe this move is a response to people who find Fredericksburg inconvenient for them personally, because they got used to driving 45 minutes from PA or NJ to get to the cons when ALL of them were in one state.  As was emphasized time and time again, when you move a convention, attendance drops off.  So why move H’con? Doesn’t that sound stupid to anyone?  Buehler? Buehler?    Yes, I admit that the margins are tighter on the Fredericksburg location, but isn’t the proper response to that to GROW THE CONVENTION IN PLACE, instead of retreating all the time?  Everywhere I looked at the convention, there were signs we had a lot of people.  I couldn’t get a parking spot to save my life on Saturday.  The games were great, people had a good time– but almost all games were full up.  We’ve had conventions that were tight on the budget before– Fall IN! at Gettysburg comes to mind, immediately.  Yet, we kept them in place in the hopes they would grow, as Fall IN! DID grow.  I find the analysis competent (good job, Scott, I’m serious), but I disagree that the conclusion is “We must move a convention now”.  I found the room rates discussion of the Jersey location alarming.. it appears we’re getting into another Baltimore situation,with very very expensive hotels, and middle aged or older attendees with fixed incomes who chose not to bother to show up.  I know I’d have to put a lot of thought into a convention that cost me a thousand bucks in hotel before I stepped one foot into the dealer area.  Only, unlike Baltimore, I couldn’t manage a day trip visit to New Jersey.  I’m not that unique– I think tons of potential Southern guests that attend can manage the same kind of math.  Frankly we’re looking at the wrong problem here.. aren’t Fall-IN! and Cold Wars the big risks here?  It truly remains to be seen whether or not the Host can be rebuilt to code or not.  So I have to ask, isn’t that where the Relocation committee should be focusing right now?  We have two very fragile eggs in that basket, and all it could take is one more burst pipe to break them.  I’ve spoken with the FI convention manager, who is up next, and he remains confident that the new owners will spend the necessary monies to get the place fixed up.  I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, but one thing’s for certain, the Host will go up in price as well.   Betting future convention success on the well being of the Lancaster Host hotel is starting to sound like a fool’s bet… and I used to be a big proponent of the place back in the MOVE HISTORICON NOW era.  Remember that?  It took a lot of fail for me to get here. Moving Historicon also seems like a bad move.  We’re ensuring a large attendance drop (according to Scott Landis, about 200 attendees, more or less).  To cut the throat of convention that might not be doing spectacularly, but at least is doing steady state (and perhaps improving) just seems .. stupid to me.  In one stroke of the pen we will lose ground we’ve made with attendees from farther South.  I was speaking with two rather pleasant gentlemen from Tennessee volunteering with me (walk in volunteers btw), and I asked them if they would go to the convention if it moved up to New Jersey or Northern PA.  “Nope, can’t afford it”, was the honest answer.  Rather than try to serve the center mass of the attendance diagram so a smaller PA-NJ-VA-MD set of people can got to three conventions in PA, why not forge ahead with the locating one in the North (NJ/NY), one in the Middle (PA) and one in the South (VA)?  We’ll at least pick up outlyers from other regions that way as well as a lot of (but not ALL of) our core attendees.  We have to understand that not all dealers will be happy with that idea and some stalwarts will not be at every convention– which is pretty much where we are at today.

Well, that’s my .02, worth what you paid for it.  I rarely speak about HMGS policies on this blog any more, because it’s not worth the effort– I’d rather spend my time commenting on the positive.  This will be an exception.  To sum up: 1) Moving Historicon bad (losing 200 attendees immediately and attendees from South and Southwest of VA), 2) Moving Cold Wars and/or Fall IN! farther North good (don’t put our eggs in one basket).  3) Geographic Attendee spread farther North and South good4) Astronomical room night rates bad.                               Rant OFF.

So our good friend Ed Watts was also experiencing his birthday at the convention and both Gar and I were invited to the tiny con-within-a-con that was his birthday party.  There was cake and candles and soda and Sword in the Flame and Western Skirmish gaming.

This was such a good time.. old friends (I despair to say how old) coming together for nosh and good times.  I was sort of the British commander for Ed’s Sword and the Flame game, which appeared a little hopeless at first but things were changing up by the time we had to end (early).  For more pictures, go HERE for the slideshow.

Saturday dragged a bit in the morning at events but was brisk at reception.  The parking lot was jammed to the gills.  We were on until 5 oclock but really didn’t have to work too hard after 1PM.  We broke down events at the end and just laid out the tickets.  Saturday night was fantastic.. I got a ticket for Steve Braun’s Tekumel game:

On the Seas of Tekumel; GM: Steve Braun; Fantasy; Homebrew/Savage Tales. Tekumel is home to many non-human races and the high seas are a great place for them to meet up a settle their differences! See what happens when  the insect-like Hluss bring their ancient Lightning Bringers to fight ships made of wood and iron. Join in the fun as the frog-like Hlutgru storm aboard your vessel. This is one of the five gamaes on the HAWKS Tekumel track.

I didn’t realize the HAWKS even had a “Tekumel track” but that certainly is intriguing.  For those of you not in the know, Tekumel is a reference to an ancient, dense roleplaying & combat system called “Empire of the Petal Throne”, set in a fantastic setting 60, 000 years in the future when mankind has colonized other worlds, in particular the setting for this game, Tekumel, a somewhat tropical planet that is host to not only human colonists but several intelligent and bellicose alien species vying for control.  Steve Braun’s game imagined that the races of Tekumel would carry their conflicts onto the ocean with them, and he spent a lot of time building up boats and weird watercraft fitted to the alien races.  I got to play the Hluss, which are kind of insect like, kind of reptilian. Best of all, my faction had an organic submersible of sorts.  This led to all kinds of hilarity when we surfaced underneath the frog-like Hlutgru’s spiffy new war canoe!


Now that’s non-stop hilarity. The Hlutgru player had another opinion, of course.

I loved the game, loved the rules.. and if they are going to be running this at Barrage I need to make a point to come to that event. I love naval games and remember having a lot of fun with this material when I was all of 17 years old. It’s heartening to see that the Petal Throne is staying alive through the volunteer efforts of lots of dedicated people. For more pictures of this event, see the slide show HERE.

I was in no more events for the weekend, I reckon I had my fill. Let’s see, lots of historicals (see the analysis up top). I only played in one “fantasy” game and I could hardly resist. There were no standout extravaganza games anywhere at this convention that I could see, but plenty of excellent work by dedicated gamemasters. I loved the games I played in. Shopping wise I didn’t get a ton of stuff but I did put down some serious support for vendors (first) and flea market (second). Got some frostgrave stuff for camp, got a new maori war canoe, go some bulk pewter for Iron Wind Metal (mostly treasure chest tokens). I did not start a new period “just because”. We discovered two new eating places down there (BonChon and Cookout), and slept well at the Homewood Suites, which is becoming my favorite of the three adjoining spots. I saw a lot of old friends, got to jaw with them endlessly and even went to a party. I’d say this convention was a bucket of win for me and my son.

Observations: There were plenty of games, numerically, but it was a seller’s market.. competition for tickets was fierce.  Lines at registration were long, but seemed to move– I didn’t hear about any WIFI disasters.  The parking lots were full all the time.  The Vendor Hall was light, but we are just going to have to accept that that is the new reality now.  The Call Ahead ticketing idea seems like it’s way overdue, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Guidebook, yet again, has proven its value.  Many people approached me to tell me how valuable the “paperless approach” is to them.

So that is that.  As the sun sets slowly in the West, we will leave our attendees, clustering around one last round of beers, re-fighting old wars..

See you all at Fall-IN!

For every picture from the weekend, and a lot of them weren’t posted, go HERE to see the slideshow…

Guidebook App for HISTORICON 2016 released


First of all, sorry this is so late.  I’ve had some serious commitments in my non-hobby world lately, including a son graduating from high school!

As I have done for almost every HMGS convention since 2011, I have prepared a Guidebook mobile app for the upcoming HISTORICON convention, to be held at the Fredericskburg Convention Center, Fredericksburg, VA next week. Now, normally I have this out about a month in advance, sorry about that.. there’s still plenty of time to download your copy.

Functionality changes: Guidebook has been tinkering with features and services in the last year, and some of the features we used to enjoy, like colored icons for tracks, are gone because they have been elevated to the paid level– and there’s not much chance HMGS will pay for the upgrade. However, I have helped the process somewhat by using the following rule of thumb: GAMES (non-tournament) in the schedule are just listed by their titles. TOURNAMENTS have a single capital T, space, then the Game Rules (example: “T DBA..”) before the event title. SEMINARS have “SEM” in front of their titles, and HOBBY UNIVERSITY events start with a HU (Number).

If you search for the Cold Wars 2016 Guidebook post, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how guidebook will work for HISTORICON 2016. It still has a photo albums, social media hooks, news, and other things. The only new (Free) feature I’m trying this time is the Speakers Module.. this replicates the SEM data I have in the main Schedule track. I wasn’t sure Guidebook was going to call that a pay feature too (groan) so i replicated the data on purpose. I’m glad they broke out Speakers as a new function, that’s a great addition.

HOW TO GET IT

Here’s the DOWNLOAD PAGE:
https://guidebook.com/g/historicon2016/

Here’s the ONLINE PREVIEW:
https://guidebook.com/guide/73277/

And if you have a QR Reader, read this one now:

If you have questions, email me, I’ll be glad to help.

See you at HISTORICON 2016 next week!!

Social Media settings for this Guidebook:

Twitter tags: #HISTORICON2016, #HMGS_Inc, #Historicon, #Miniature_Wargames

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/23036244526/ (HMGS Facebook Group)

Be sure to post your photographs to the photo album, that’s how we share the experience with others!

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.

HISTORICON 2015: Sand Fleas in Fredericksburg!


It’s time for one of my favorite things to write, a convention narrative.  From Wednesday 15 July to Sunday 19 July, I attended HISTORICON 2015, at the Fredericksburg Convention Center.  I was on staff for the convention (working the events board), I stayed at the Homewood Suites, and I ran one game Saturday night.

Traffic?  Well, there wasn’t, much. 

I had half a day on Wednesday but had the car packed the night before, so I hit the road directly after changing and arrived in Fredericksburg from the DC area in about an hour.  Traffic was dense but steady– if I had been any later, I would have taken the Western route– out 66 to 29 South through Warrenton, then 17 directly to the Center.  As it turned out, I was willing to gamble since I left at 1300, and it paid off in time.

The usual first day hubbub was in evidence, people hanging up tags and stuffing flyers into program books and setting up the registration system.  Controlled Chaos really.  After a while it becomes second nature.  The CD did try to set up convention registration in the long hall next to the side ballrooms.  Jury’s out on that idea.  I think it might have worked best by the hallway near the windows on the far side of the hall, as the hall is wider there, but I understand you will want reg to be in the central part of your convention so you can control events better.   I thought the hall was  a little bit of a squeeze as a result.  Gamers ain’t svelte, as a rule.

The Typical Challenges and a new biting phenomenon

There was the typical challenges associated with the facility.   It does get loud on Saturday and Friday and Thursday peak hours.   The carpeting helps a lot.  So does the vertical drapes that break up the space around the main room.  We arrived expecting that. The HVAC handled Wednesday and Thursday’s environmental conditions fine; however by Friday midday the heat index was well over 100 degrees F– hot enough to make you instantly feel like an un-wrung sponge and gasping for breath once you walked outside. Not healthy environmental conditions!. Inside the hall the HVAC did its best but it was, well, “muggy” in the Exhibitor’s Hall to be certain.  One new nuisance appeared to be a biting fly that was annoying the hell out of people during games.  I’m not sure what form of insect life it was but I had small welts on my legs.  Very annoying, I think it was a sand-flea. On the plus side, that was my favorite hotel experience I’ve had at Fredericksburg. I was parked close enough to walk to the hall every day. The complimentary food didn’t suck and it was in abundance. I wish the other hotels would follow their example.

Bug Disclaimer statement: I experienced several instances of a small, annoying flying and biting insect specifically on Friday. Other people did, too. Many people did not experience any bites and are surprised I brought this up. I am not sure what the insect was; I’m not an entomologist, nor do I play one on television.

Thursday: Events, Food and a Chariot Race.

Thursday was a brisk start..  I was at the events desk for the entire show, so spent much of the time handing out tickets and resolving table problems.

Sugah don’t melt in my mowf.

Here we are improvising tickets.

Historicon 2015 had many great games but most of the ones I saw were sell-outs. Why? Because there clearly were not enough of them being run. There are plenty of attendees that wanted to get into 2 or more games a day, but it wasn’t going to happen. Pickings were slim. So if you want more historical games (or any games for that matter) people are going to have to step up (either in Fredericksburg or Lancaster, by the way). I can afford to lecture since I did run one, he said smugly.

I gulped down a free manager’s special (dinner) and hurried over to the main hall to play in a chariot race.  This was a fun game (totally full up), done in 54mm scale and using Brian Dewitt’s chariot racing rules. I’ve played in games using those rules before and I enjoy them– much easier than Circus Maximus.

CLICK ME TO SEE THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SLIDE SHOW!

I like Chariot games– and I’ve been in a few over the years. Experience teaches me to to let the blowhards who like to crash into each other get out in front while they attack each other, and carefully inhabit a slot in the middle of the pack waiting for the aggressive ones to die. That didn’t happen quickly enough so by the end of the second lap I was taking risks to pull out in front or I would fall too far behind. That worked,kind of, but I had been pretty battered by attacks and when I tried to go into that final curve, my chariot flipped on me. Withing half a lap of the finish line. That’s the way the cookie crumbles!

Here’s a little thing I put together using some stills and a little footage left from a Periscope session. I used “Jockey full of bourbon” by Tom Waits as the music (the first time) but Vimeo had copyright problems so there’s some godawful royalty free electronica on there now.

I hung out with some friends later and played some board games, notably Letters from Whitechapel (the new version from FFG). Whitechapel is a fun little guessing game with attractive components. The players are constables trying to catch Jack the Ripper in Victorian London. Jack uses hidden movement, from sector to sector, as the constables call out the sector numbers to see if he’s there. We came close a couple of times but Jack solidly kicked all of our asses.

Games were pretty good at HISTORICON 2015, but nothing that I considered a huge standout. There was some very pretty terrain setups here or there, but I saw a lot of GMs cutting corners, too.

Seriously? An out of the box game of Space Hulk?

There were also GMs who spent a year or more making a setup, as you can see here:

I enjoyed the games I got into, for the most part. If there was any standout theme, I’d say “Air combat games”.. seemed like there were a ton of them being played. Mostly Check your Six.

Here’s a slideshow of other sights seen around Historicon 2015:

CLICK ME to see more

The next day I worked the Events desk as normal, and then got into a game of BLOCKADE RUNNERS run by Gary Coyle. Gary is an excellent gamesmaster and I have played in his Roman Seas games before and had a great time with them. Blockade Runners was a Charleston Harbor scenario during the last full year of the Civil War. As the Union, you’re trying to stop blockade runners from entering the harbor. As a Confederate, you’re there to engage the Union fleet and prevent their conditions from happening. I had two Passaic ironclads, the other two Union players had Passaic ironclads and the New Ironsides. We were up against a number of Pametto State style casement ironclads armed with a mix of guns and spar torpedoes. There was an inshore squadron of David style and Spar torpedo armed small boats that really didn’t see action. We pulled off a very narrow Union victory by sinking two Blockade Runners. We were unable to do much lasting damage to the casemates, though Palmetto state was pretty battered by the end of the game. On the plus side not much damage was done to the Union side either. Much as I like Gary’s games I wasn’t enchanted with the rules, Steam and Sail Navies. Combat resolution was slow, very chart heavy and I never really “grokked it”. Perhaps a good system for a game in someone’s basement but not for a big convention game.

(Naturally, click on the picture above for a small slide show on Blockade Runners)

Afterward I went out for dinner, to a local place I hadn’t tried yet, Tito’s Diner. One must try new things. It wasn’t a raging success. Any diner should be able to master a basic Reuben, and mine had plastic in it.

Saturday was another brisk day, as people queued up to get tickets. Except for MY game, which was being held at 10PM.. was I insane? Should I have scheduled it at 9PM?

I shouldn’t have worried…

I did some shopping both in the dealer hall and the flea market. I also popped out for a few supplies for the evening’s festivities.

Wait.. to LEGALLY clarify.. I kept these back at the room for after-game toasting.. that’s right..

RIDE THAT FURY ROAD!! S-450, GM Walt O’Hara

I’ve been working on a Road Warrior style game off and on since Cold Wars. It came together rather easily, using Eric’s Road Warrior rules as a base and doing a lot of tinkering. This game was a dry run for the Game Camp I’ll be running in August, and I have to say it was a great success. People had a great time, the rules were simple enough and though some of the stats need tweaking, the basic ideas are easy enough to grasp and run with. I loved the way the game built its own narrative.. the hippies with the cloud of pot smoke behind their VW Van, the Fighting Griswolds, Herbie the Hate Bug, the not-so homicidal Postman and his SLOW postal truck, the Bikers, the explosions.. simple fun! That’s a win.

To see a slideshow, click on the picture below

Explosions! Machine Guns! Oil Slicks! Pot Smoke! Dubious Sushi! This game had it all!

I ended up getting to bed at 3AM, despite my best efforts to get some sleep at this convention.

Sunday was spent in some desultory shopping before hitting the road North. Traffic back home was worse than traffic there. It’s all in the timing.

So, in conclusion– a good convention!

Highlights were:

  • Getting some of my gaming camp families to drop by in advance and take a tour.  Paul Delaney was kind enough to extend free passes to any family that wanted to attend in advance of the camp and many people responded they were coming.. only one did that I know of, but that’s okay.
  • I really enjoyed playing Chariots and running the Ride that Fury Road game. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing my friends again.
  • Shopping — I got some Saxons from Footsore Miniatures (one of the standout vendors, kind of a new guy on the block).  Also some Fairy Swordfish in 1:600 scale (for my Raid on Taranto game) from PicoArmor as well as the Hind Commander game, which intrigues the heck out of me.  Nothing jumped out in the Flea Market but I did get more (painted) Saxons and laser artillery bits for my Future Tank game.
  • I noticed there were representatives from the Dayton Convention Center and York Convention Center touring the convention to get an idea of the scope of the thing. Comments from the Dayton guy: “It’s soo.. sooo HUGE! I had no idea!”
  • The Guidebook app continues to be useful and the recent metadata they publish is really starting to be helpful in a meaningful way. Here’s a snap of some of the stats being collected (in the free version):

    There was also a big hook to Twitter and Facebook at this convention and the hashtag #Historicon2015 was used liberally. It really helped spread the word, I think.

So that was my Historicon, I’d give it a decent B+. Thanks to all the staff and leadership for working tirelessly as unpaid volunteers to put on a great show, and thanks for reading.

Last Changes/Updates to the HISTORICON 2015 guidebook app


Various Guidebook Formats

Various Guidebook Formats

HISTORICON 2015 convention goers.. I’m making the last changes to the GUIDEBOOK app for HISTORICON 2015. So here are a few notes for you.

Dudley Garidel got the final vendor count and maps to me, they are now included. I’ve added one more event since PEL.  There’s one BIG map image to show how the tables fit together, then I broke the big map into 3 smaller ones, front, middle and back.

I enabled three new features for HISTORICON 2015. Twitter feed, Notepad and TMP News feed. What the heck, why not, they are free!

1) A News feed uses a RSS feed to transmit news items to the Guidebook. Since HMGS doesn’t keep up a RSS feed, I used the miniatures page, which is as close as we come. It’s not very relevant to a specific show, but what the heck, it might provide interesting reading.

2) Notepad is just that– a place for the user to keep notes.. like ” I need to vist PicoArmor and buy Hind D helicopters”.. etc. etc.

3) Twitter feed. Again, there ISN’T a Twitter account for Historicon (that I could find), so I’ll do some tweeting about it during the show using my account (@TheLastBrunch) and the hashtag HISTORICON2015. I encourage EVERYONE who uses twitter to use #historicon2015 during the show!!

If you need a reminder about how to get the GUIDEBOOK app and the specific HISTORICON 2015 guide, visit the landing page.

HERE is the guide on the web

Major Guidebook Update for HISTORICON 2015


Hey HMGS Convention Attendees, we have a MAJOR Guidebook Update for you.

Hey Historicon! There’s an app for that!

First of all, I tried floating events early without room numbers.  That was a bad idea, as updating them (later) WITH the numbers nuked most of what I had done before, causing me to reenter data for tournaments and seminars!  Woo hoo! I love entering data twice.

So I’m making a business decision– we don’t post events (that is, regular games) until the events guy irons out what the table numbers are and where they are at.. it’s too painful to bounce back if the earlier input crashes on you.  If that means we post Guidebook a little closer to the event, so be it.

So, what do we have?

  • TOURNAMENTS (again)
  • SEMINARS (again)
  • HOBBY UNIVERSITY (first time)
  • GAMES (again)
  • Maps!

What am I missing?  The map of the Exhibitor Hall and Exhibitor List.

And then we will be done, unless we get new games between now and the convention itself.

How to get it

Go to the Guidebook Landing Page which is HERE and follow directions.

To Preview the Guide

Go to the Preview Page which is here

Historicals versus Non-Historical Count

New feature: I thought I’d do an actual count by period.  The reality of Non-Historical versus Historical by counting the actual numbers, not by hand waving*:


Source: Events Spreadsheet extracted on 6/18/2015, Historicon 2015

So the reality is 20% non-historical games at Historicon.  And I’m grouping in anything that could remotely be considered fantasy and SF together.  There are the numbers.

Events by Rules mentioned in PEL


You may have to click to see original size. There were a lot of rule sets.

This was all over the map.. there were a lot of rule sets being used.  Where it was possible I combined version and flavors and variants into the parent.

In any event, there’s the true facts, and a big, big, big guidebook update.  See you at HISTORICON 2015.

* Note on the period count above– it excludes all tournaments, which probably should be entered under fantasy in some respects.  Did I say that out loud?  I’m trying not to snark…

First Draft (PEL v.) Guidebook for HISTORICON 2015 is ready for downloads.


Greetings, HISTORICON 2015 convention attendees!

As I do for all the HMGS Inc shows (and other conventions), I have created a Guidebook App for you to download and use as a sort of electronic program booklet for the duration of your stay at the convention.

If you are not familiar with HISTORICON and HMGS historical miniature goodness, I recommend visiting the HMGS Site to get up to speed about our biggest event of the year, HISTORICON.    H’con will be held at the Fredericksburg Convention Center, Carl. D. Silver parkway, just to the left of Interstate I-95 facing North.   The app will actually pop up Google Maps to give you an idea of where to go.

[Cautionary note.  You register,sign-up for events, and pay on the Historicon 2o15 site above, which looks like this.  You don’t register for Hcon with this guidebook app, even if it has some features described as “checking in”– that is mostly for attendees communicating with each other and has nothing to do with paying/registering for a show]

Each Guidebook App uses the guidebook app engine created by Guidebook, Inc.  The information is customized for every show.   Usually by me, as it happens.

So to make the Guidebook App work, you’ll need the core “engine app” from Guidebook, and the specialized convention module that I create for each show.  You download the guidebook app, FIRST, then using the search mechanism, search for the app for a specific show.  In this case, HISTORICON 2015.

You will find the pertinent links to how to download the core app and show app on Guidebook’s LANDING PAGE for Historicon 2015.

After you download the guidebook app first and convention app second, you can browse around and look at the schedule.

Front Splash Page, Featuring maps and address, show hours and policies

The menu as it stands currently (PEL release)

Note— these are Android Phone version screens– I usually post Ipad shots.  I changed it up because not everyone uses a tablet.

Note, as well — this release was concurrent with the official HMGS Historicon PEL.  It is ONLY that at the moment.. just the event listings that the events team has a record of at the current moment (5/12/2015).  The guidebook will change a great deal before game time– we will be adding Seminars, Maps, Tournaments, Hobby University events, Exhibitor Listings, Restaurants, and a Vendor Hall Layout.  The good news is that if you download it now, you will automatically update every time I publish an update.  Just open it connected to the Internet (somehow) and Guidebook will tell you that Historicon 2015 has been updated and do you want to update it?  Say yes.

Right now, this is just the first step/bare bones initial release.  Stand by and I will be posting major updates as I get them.  You can also view the preview web copy here.

Enjoy, and I’ll see you at HISTORICON 2015.  I’ll be the guy running the big post-apocalyptic Mad Max game.

Guidebook QR Codes:

For the guidebook app, the “engine”

For the Guide itself (if you already have Guidebook installed). The actual show bits.

Wargames Illustrated announces winners of HISTORICON 14 painting contest


Paint Contest Results posted to Wargames Illustrated

Historicon 2013 Show Figure (contestant unknown)

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

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

The Union Forever! The Battle of Mobile Bay


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

The UNION FOREVER!!

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

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

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

Union Forces closer up

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

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

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

Sometimes the “stupid strategy” is stunningly successful

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

Victory!

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

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

HISTORICON 2014: Another big Guidebook App Update


What’s this? Another Guidebook Update?  Of course!  

Here’s what’s been done: Bill Rutherford, events guy extraordinaire, took the time to review my last update.   He found some unintentional duplicates, which have been fixed, and added another 12 or so events.  I also added all 60-ish Hobby University events (thank you, Heather).

The only things that are left are a Vendor Listing, a Vendor Map (from Dudley) and any additional new events (from Bill)

Updating instructions: Just open up Guidebook on your phone, Ipad, Android device etc. and click “Okay” for the download notice.

Getting a new Guidebook and Downloading the Historicon 2014 guidebook: Go to the Historicon 2014 Landing Page.  Follow instructions.

To preview online, visit this page.

That’s all for now.  See you at HISTORICON!

Historicon 12 June 14 Guidebook Update: Baselined


FIXED!  Missing Table Numbers.  ADDED! New events and 1 seminar

FIXED! Missing Table Numbers. ADDED! New events and 1 seminar

After quite a bit of work, I have reconciled the first posting of Guidebook, fixing the missing table numbers (one by one by one.. sigh). That had to be done. I’ve added NEW events from that update to now. I’ve added one new seminar.

What’s missing:

Exhibitor Hall layout (need from Mr. Dudley Garidel)
Hobby University Events (need from Ms. Heather Blush)

Everything else should be there.

Landing page: https://guidebook.com/guide/18908/

Update Notes: as always, IF YOU HAVE GB ALREADY, just open up guidebook and it will update for you.

If you need to install guidebook and the directory, go to the landing page.

Hey! New Features!

Guidebook.com added a few neat features since last time.  INBOX, ATTENDEES and NOTEPAD.

Inbox is an easy way to message all users who are using the current guidebook (see picture below).  Right now there’s just a couple of Guidebook related messages in there but DURING THE CONVENTION it can go out to anyone attending using guidebook.  That’s handy!!

Attendees seems to be a way of “checking in” for attendees.  Remember, this isn’t connected to our registration system.. it’s not the same thing.

Notepad is pretty much what you think it is, a little notepad app to keep notes about thing during the convention.

New features.. including inbox

New features.. including inbox

Guidebook for HISTORICON 2014: FIRST DRAFT published


DRAFT Guidebook App has been published

Front Page of the HISTORICON APP. This is the just the standard information– where the Fredericksburg convention center is, the URLs for registration etc. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Greetings! The Guidebook Convention attendee app has been published in draft form, thanks to some assistance from Mr. Bill Rutherford, HISTORICON Events Guy. Now I’m going to tell you up front, so NO WHINING!! This is a first look draft of the PEL schedule and it has NOTHING ELSE except some standard boilerplate about the convention location, website URLs etc. Here’s what it doesn’t have:

  • Table numbers are not finalized
  • Room Maps are not complete, so not included
  • I don’t have Vendor Information yet
  • I don’t have Tournament Information yet
  • I have nothing for Hobby University yet

Regardless of that, I like to get a first draft of the convention app out as early as I can, so I can increase awareness and downloads of Guidebook.  We had 500 plus users at Cold Wars 2014, and that’s roughly 1/4 of the people that attended.  Progress.

This is about all you can see right now, I’ve added all the events that have been submitted so far. I’ll be adding banners and pretty stuff as usual. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Now, my standing offer is still out there. If you want your event, business, or seminar to have its own special banner. Email me. I’ll make it happen, just provide me the art.

TO GET YOUR HISTORICON 2014 APP:

1) You’ll need the Guidebook app for your Android Smartphone, Ipad, Ipod Touch, Android tablet, or browser capable phone.

2) Visit the Guidebook Landing Page.

3) If you have Guidebook installed, just download the Historicon 2014 guide by using “Download new guides”.  If you have to install/reinstall Guidebook first, do so per your devices’ method of installing applications, then download the new guide.

There will be many updates between now and HISTORICON.  Don’t sweat it, just open up your app in a wireless/4G/3G zone and it will download changes as I make them.  Enjoy.

Once again, the LANDING PAGE: https://guidebook.com/g/t64n7ism/

HISTORICON 2013 AAR


HISTORICON is here!

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

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

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

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

WEDNESDAY

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

Convention Director meeting

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

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

Walt is holding a Twinkie in his freckled paw.

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

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

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

Me holding up a Twinkies box.

Come on, baby… you KNOW you want it…

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

Click on, Gentle Reader, for more Historicon Goodness

BDB Ship Charts 2.0


Image

BDB Ship “Red Ragnarok”

If you have even a passing interest in BDB (running this Thursday night at HISTORICON 2013), have a look at your options for ships below.  These are the craft that will be creating mayhem on the Middle Sea.