Tag Archives: tabletop

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.

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Star Wars Armada tournament at Huzzah Hobbies


I dropped by Huzzah Hobbies yesterday and they were having a tournament for Star Wars Armada. Sadly I didn’t know this was going on or I would have participated, even though I’m a relative newbie. I need to pay attention to Huzzah’s store calendar more often if they are going to do events like these. The event was going on on 8 tables, two battles per table, so that’s an impressive turn out.

I recorded a quick reaction audio on my phone here. I wanted to remember the bit about the Shapeways store selling Homemade 3D printed Armada variants. That’s exciting stuff.

The Shapeways shop is Mel Miniatures. You will want to visit this place if you have an interest in space games. Check out the Armada Ships page. The best part is that there is already a fan page supporting creating new cards for these ships, located here. That’s a pretty exciting development. I enjoy variety and think that the Armada game would be greatly strengthened with the introduction of smaller to mid-ranged ships on both sides– corvettes, frigates and escort ships. The introduction of new 3D printed ships is a great idea.

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…

Language as a mechanic in Games– Src:Card puzzled over, but not reviewed [Kickstarter incoming]


And now for something completely different, well, maybe not that different, but at least a little unusual.

I heard about SRC: CARD recently when someone (well, the designer) emailed me about it out of the blue.  SRC: CARD is an interesting idea for a tabletop game.  From the promo blurbs:

Src:Card is a standalone 2 player (2-4 with expansion) card game that challenges players to build their own super robot core while attacking their opponent by writing code.  Make your robot core as formidable as possible while creating code to attack and anticipate changes to your opponent’s robot brain. Src:Card incorporates real coding concepts that are challenging for experts and easy to learn for beginners. Anyone can learn the game in 15 minutes.

The robot fighting part?  Eh, that sounds like a tacked on theme to me.  I’ve played Robot Fighting games before, including the famous one.. you’ve heard of Robo-Rally, surely.  The interesting part?  The description of the key mechanic of this game.  You are programming in a language will launch attacks against an enemy computer core.  I don’t have a copy of this game in front of me and I’ll be honest– I’ve never played it.  It doesn’t really exist yet.  However, from the demo I saw on the Kickstarter Page, I was sufficiently intrigued to be interested.  You see, I like linguistic style games with a clearly defined ruleset and consistent, ironbound internal logic.   Somewhat like computer programming, come to think of it.   SRC:CARD is purporting to use a type of language as the means in which to play.  From what I’m seeing, the language is created by playing cards that represent either computer cores or programming statements.  The impetus is on the player to continue playing the statements to form conditional loops, if statements and variables to attack the enemy computer core before the either card “bootup” limit suddenly happens.  Honestly, I’m not sure how it would play– the vibe I’m getting is ERGO, from Catalyst Games, with maybe a little Robo-Rally thrown in.  That could be a good thing.  The only tabletop game that I know of that relies on a learned language to play would be Ergo, though there might be others.  In Ergo’s case, it’s the language of Logic Proofs, in the more abstract form.  Sadly this doesn’t seem to be a concept that attracts potential players– I’ve yet to play Ergo (which I own) with anyone but myself.

I think what might set SRC:CARD apart from earlier attempts at Linguistic Games like Ergo is the Win/Lose conditions of “killing the other robot”. With a simple goal like that, I think people might be willing to give the programming element a try. Let’s face it; either you like programming or you don’t– it’s not a pure sex and free beer kind of occupation. So anything that makes the subject less daunting and more valuable will have value.

In any event, give the KS Video a look and make up your own minds.

Kickstarter Link for SRC:CARD

Likely this will be a niche demand game, but I think there’s a lot of appeal there for the right geeky kind of person.

Taranto Progress… Planes almost done


Surprisingly, I’m making a fair amount of progress quickly.


23 Pico Armor Fairey Swordfish models are assembled, painted (rudimentary style) and 21 are even mounted on bases precariously on wires.  I will bump the final count up to 24 so I can have 8 teams of 3 in the final game.  21 flew the historical mission in two waves.  I will have the real pilots names on all the bases (and 3 fictional pilots).  I have 8 Fulmar aircraft, only 1 of which is shown above.  Records indicated Fulmars flew as combat escorts, I’m not sure how I will include them.  It might be fun to have a range of hypotheticals included on the Italian side, including possible support from the Regio Aeronautica.  I’ve ordered some period Italian planes to cause havoc in the future.  i need to touch up the paint jobs, add some detailing and decals, and they are finished.

I’ve got barrage balloons in various stages of completion, these proved to be easy, but I’ll need another order of them.  I have 10 AA tokens painted up, and I just got ten more on EBay.  I’m going with an zone style approach to anti-aircraft fire.  The Italian response was vigorous but inaccurate historically.  The ships all had various AA factors and it seems to be clear that they participated in defensive fire as well as gun emplacements.  I might nominate an AA gun range and give each ship a choice of which plane to target per turn, and that plane gets another AA roll against it.

The fleet is done– painted, based and labeled with names.

Next step is to figure out terrain.

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.

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


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

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

Group 1: Food and TV

The Food and TV collection

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

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

Group 2: Oddball car conversions

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

The Oddball Conversion collection

Clockwise from Top Left:

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

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

Group 3: The Technicals

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

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

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

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

Group 4: “The Man”

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

The “Man” (Law and order) collection

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

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

Stay tuned for more automotive mayhem.

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.

Friday: the End, and Zombietown USA


Friday dawned and with it the last day of Game Camp. Friday’s traditional game is ZOMBIE TOWN USA, which is a game designed by the kids at the camp in 2008, and embellished a little by me. For the audience, time and scale, it’s a great little game– no muss and no fuss, and I like to run it. Here’s a free copy, if you are interested at all. The not so subtle benefit of Zombie Town on Friday is that it is a game that fits in a smallish box plus a few terrain pieces and a ground cloth. The sum total of extra bits are a box of tokens, Heroscape dice and some sticks for measuring, plus some playing cards for initiative. Since ZT plays fairly quickly, I ran DO YOU WORSHIP CTHULHU? Which is basically a Werewolf knockoff by the Toy Vault with nice cards. That went over well.

While I was setting up ZT USA, the kids seized GET BIT and played yet another game of it. GET BIT was played many times during the course of the week. I showed them the Wil Wheaton Tabletop episode on GET BIT and some of them want to order copies for themselves now.

ZT USA started around 10 AM and played until 2 PM, with a break for lunch. This was a fun game. Players assume the role of SWAT team survivors from various police precincts, about two years into a Zombie holocaust. Most of humanity is gone and what little authority that still exists rests in small enclaves and armed camps. The players played a small group of police led by the cowardly LT Brannigan. The group had orders to investigate rumored large scale Zed migrations that had recently been detected in the desert. Accordingly the group has set up a CP in a crumbling deserted tourist town. On a patrol they were ambushed by a huge mob of zeds that have chased them two days and killed two of them. The game begins as they arrive at the edge of the town, on the run from an advancing horde. The object of the game is to cross to the Helicopter Pad at the edge of town without attracting too many rogue zombies.

The trick is to SNEAK, and not attract too many zeds. Of course, there’s always THAT GUY who freaks out and runs, and then the trouble starts.

Just to add a little contention, I played LT Brannigan, who was unnerved to the point where he had to run for it. He made the helicopter pad in 2 turns, but had to avoid zombies while he frantically called for the extraction chopper. Of course, he summoned all kinds of zombies during his noisy run to the pad.

As happens in this game, the more noise you make, the more zombies that show up. The more zombies that show up, the more noise you make killing them. Which summons more zombies. You can’t win!

I added a few random bits like Mutant Zombies, Butcher Zombies, Ventriloquist Zombies, and various things like random encounters. The horde showed up and that hastened the game to the gory end.

The Perimeter at the Helipad shrinking as the Zombies pile on.

For more Zombie fun, check out this slideshow:

misternizz's Story

We ended up at 1400, and packed it up to have an ice cream party. I asked the campers what their favorites were this week. Unquestionably, BIG DANGED BOATS led the approval rating from everyone, followed by THE MAGI, OLYMPICA, Fantasy Gladiators and Zombietown. They suggested I trim down from 5 games to 4, so they can finish one they started. Good point!

Another Camp done! Back again next year!

Get Bit! at Victory Comics


Get Bit! 3rd US edition

Garrett and I try GET BIT by Mayday Games (Fourth US edition).  GET BIT is a fun little game of robots and sharks swimming in the water, and I discovered it via this episode of TABLETOP, by Wil Wheaton.   I was glad to see the game got reprinted on the strength of that episode, or I would have never got my greedy paws on it.

The game reminded me strongly of a racing game called FORMULA MOTOR RACING published by 1995. Like the racing cars in that game, the robots line up in a line and position changes as a result of card play. Formula Motor Racing has a few more options but the experience is similar– in the case of GET BIT, you want to play the lowest card combination to be the first (unbit) robot in the line of swimmers. Since you only have a finite amount of cards (1-7 for more than 4 players, 1-5 for less than 4) that can get to be fairly problematic– to play effectively, you need to guess when to play the high and low cards, based on what you’ve seen your opponents do. Not something that would give Aristotle nightmares but a fun little game!

The verdict is positive, we both enjoyed GET BIT, quite a bit.  It has its silly moments but this isn’t a mindless luck game by a long shot.  There’s strategy, and memory, and guesswork involved if you want to play well.  Enjoy!

The First Tabletop Show hosted by Wil Wheaton


As I reported back in March 2012, Wil Wheaton has launched an internet review show in conjunction with Felicia Day dedicated to tabletop boardgaming called, appropriately, Tabletop. I just viewed the first episode– featuring Wheaton playing Days of Wonder’s SMALL WORLD with his guests. I really am enjoying this show (for now). Watching people play boardgames can be as interesting as watching paint dry sometimes, but in this instance the selection of players (two people I’ve never heard of and Grant Imahara from Myth Busters, plus the host) made the show successful. There’s a lot of smirking at the camera and witty bon mots with popular culture references thrown in, and in general, it’s pretty funny when it doesn’t seem forced. The real strength of the show is the slice of time Wheaton takes to explain the game in depth before the actual play session starts. I’ve seen a ton of Youtube boardgame reviews in my day, and most of them suffer from the same problem– the person conducting the review isn’t a professional, in-front-of-the-camera person, and is usually a little rattled. Wheaton, Imahara, and the other goons seemed comfortable and at ease in front of the camera and they conveyed the game to the audience nicely. Sometimes the humor is a bit.. well, forced. Most of my friends are smartasses and enjoy throwing out wisecracks during a game, but the volume level Wheaton uses for the in-game commentary made it seem like he was trying to add humor needlessly. Things that worked very well were the little stings with graphics here and there during the game that explained exactly what was going on and why a choice was being made. Very professional. I’m hoping the Days of Wonder folks showered Wil with gold pieces after this, as it’s a very effective commercial for SMALL WORLD.

As for the show, I liked it, I loved it, I could watch some more of it!  Keep up the good work, Wil Wheaton!  You’re doing good things.  I can’t see this show featuring games much MORE complicated, or longer, than Small World, but there’s definitely a niche for this kind of program out there.

Guidebook App for Historicon 2011!! The Height of Coolness


Announcing the Guidebook App for HISTORICON 2011!

HMGS is beta testing a new approach towards delivering critical convention information to individual users this year. Working in partnership with Guidebookapp,com, We have created a limited beta of HISTORICON electronic guides that download to your Iphone, Ipad, Ipod, or any Android phone.

Guidebook Features:

  • The entire convention schedule, that’s events, war college, everything, available via a single guidebook app.
  • Maps to the convention spaces.
  • Vendor/Exhibitor information.
  • A scheduler that will allow you to plan your entire time at the convention.. and it will alert you when an event is coming up by sounding an alarm.
  • The ability to “Tweet” your current event to Twitter as you are playing it.

This is our first year using this service– so we have opted to use the free introductory service package, with only five hundred downloads per convention. We may expand our downloads for future conventions if we discover that there is a big demand for Guidebook– but first we need to know if you will use it, or if it is indeed worth the effort for you.

BOTTOM LINE: there’s five hundred downloads. First come, first served. But if you download guidebook, HMGS would GREATLY appreciate feedback on how you use it, and what you would like to see added to it.

I (Walt O’Hara) punched in the Historicon 2011 guidebook and am collecting feedback from users at Hotspur@rocketmail.com. I am interested in what more I could add to the guidebook, as well as if we use up every one of the 500 guidebook downloads. This will give me more data on how to approach FALL IN 2011. Thanks for your assistance in advance.

Respectfully,
Walt O’Hara

INSTRUCTIONS FOLLOW

The main page for the Guidebook app is here: http://guidebookapp.com/ or on it can be viewable on guidebookapp’s mobile site: http://m.guidebookapp.com/

1. Get the app

For Android Phones: The Guidebook app is available in the Android Marketplace for free.

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.guidebook.android

For Apple Iphones, or Ipods, or Ipads: The Guidebook app is available in the App Marketplace for free:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/guidebook/id428713847?mt=8

2. Install as you would a normal IoS or Android application.

3. Launch the application.

4. After the app is installed, a main menu item will be “Download the Guides”

You will see HISTORICON 2011 prominently in the front page of downloadable guides. If you are in a spot with wireless or use a 3G/4G data network, it should drop down to your device promptly.

5. Once it’s on your device: You can select Schedule, Maps, Artist’s Row, Twitter, My Schedule, To Do List, Exhibitors, and General Info. That’s about it! Use and enjoy! You can get a rundown on the features here: http://guidebookapp.com/features/#exhibitor

This post is repeated on my blog, the Third Point of Singularity, with a screenshot of the various platforms the guidebook app can run on:
https://misternizz.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/guidebook-app-for-historicon-2011-the-height-of-coolness/

Various Guidebook app platforms, including using a mobile page with a Blackberry device.

Have fun with Guidebook, and I’ll see you at the convention!