I attended Historicon in Fredericksburg Virginia Thursday 13 July through Sunday 16 July. I tell myself that after each HMGS convention I attend I’m going to post an AAR on this blog, but it never happens. What follows is my first attempt to recap my experience at a con.
Caleb, Dennis and I finally got on the road around 0915, car loaded with mostly terrain for the games I was running. The trip was uneventful until we hit the I-95 interchange on 17S where it was backed up quite a bit. We circumvented the traffic and went in the back way, arriving at the Expo Center a little before 1100.
We had all preregistered so getting our credentials was a breeze, and we headed into the main gaming hall. After socializing with a few friends and snapping a few pics, I figured I would set up for my game that kicked off at 1400. I’m glad I started early as I got chatty with a few people and didn’t finish up until 1330. With 30 minutes left I went to the head, and had what was probably the most humorous exchange of the weekend. The gentleman at the urinal next to me squeezed out one of those wet sounding farts – kinda sounded like a water balloon full of guacamole rolling down a flight of steps and breaking open at the bottom. I asked him “Did you get any on you?” and he laughed and replied “I don’t know, I’ll have to check.” I was thankful, as that could have gone poorly for me. On the way back to the table I got a beer (a fully sanctioned, purchased in the venue beer) to take the edge off before starting.
After play testing my scenarios using Disposable Heroes II, I made the decision to switch to Chain of Command as I am more familiar with it and I felt it worked better with the way I wanted my games to run. My rules change and the 1 hour time extension for my slots came along late in the process and weren’t reflected in the program, but it didn’t seem to bother any of the players. For this session I had one pre-registered player, two with tickets they got that morning, one walk on and one observer.
I introduced myself to the crew and gave a very brief overview of the rules, then I pulled aside the German and American players separately to discuss their OOBs and objectives. The scenario was set in Normandy late in the campaign, with the Germans defending a village and the Americans trying to push them out. The Germans took the first phase, rolled their Command Dice and we were off and running.
Overall the game went okay. Most of the players seemed to enjoy themselves, and we all shared a lot of laughs. It was hard for me to convince the Americans that they needed to be a bit more aggressive. For the most part the bulk of their forces stayed behind a hedge for the majority of the game. The M-10 did take out the Panzer IV with it’s first shot, but then the Germans became conservative with their armor. Still, I think everyone enjoyed themselves which is what really matters. As a bonus I picked up my second Pour Encourager Les Autres (PELA) Award. From the HMGS site:
The “PELA” is a GM Award primarily for a traditional historical based miniatures gaming event, and selected during morning, afternoon and evening sessions daily. The “Pour Encourager Les Autres” quote stems from an Admiral from the Age of Sail, who, after a defeat was executed “To encourage the others.”
After tearing down and packing up again, I went and checked in next door at the Homewood Suites. I hauled my stuff upstairs and went out for a late dinner. Afterwards I went back to the con but was so worn out from the day I called it a night and hit the sack.
Here are some pics from my game:
And a few shots from around the main hall:
I woke fairly early Friday morning, grabbed breakfast at the hotel and took a quick shower, then drove over to the Expo Center to get a good parking space to unload. Most of my morning was spent taking a leisurely approach to setting up for my game at 1000. I finished up, grabbed a cup of coffee and put my game face on.
I knew that all of my pre-registration tickets for this session were gone, but I only had three players show and, surprisingly, no walk ups as there have been in the past. The one player was a good sport and agreed to handle 2 platoons on his own as the other players were friends that came together. One of these was a gentleman maybe ten years my senior, and it was his first wargame ever – no pressure.
The scenario was an early war engagement with the French defending and the Germans attacking. Both sides ended up playing aggressive which made for a great game. The newbie ended up playing the French armor and was rolling hot with his Char B1 bis early on, taking out the Panzer IV and tearing up an infantry squad with the howitzer. Everyone had a great time, and later that day I saw the new player walking out with a bag of something from the Dealer’s Hall, so mission accomplished.
Some snaps from the game:
After cleanup and stowage, I finally took my first stroll through the Dealer’s Hall. I really didn’t have much of a shopping list but, as impractical as they are at the scale, I’ve always wanted a 28mm Waco Glider. Recently Sarissa Precision released one and Wargame Tools had them at the show, so I picked one up.
We hit an early dinner, then headed back to the con to stroll around. I peeked my head in one of the smaller meeting rooms and saw Rob from The Brit, The Yank and The Hobby Podcast. We had met earlier in the day, and they were about to play in a game of Combat Patrol so he asked the GM (also the author of the rules Buck Surdu) if I could join in. I own a copy of the rules and the necessary card decks, so I was pleased that he squeezed me in.
I ended up playing on the US side and running a squad with a halftrack. Our objective was to clear a road running down the middle of the board lengthwise. I was outnumbered with my suggestion of advancing on a wide front (the Germans started the game hidden), so we overloaded the left flank which ended up causing some traffic jam problems, but we ended up advancing fairly far by game’s end. I like the rules, although Chain of Command will remain my go-to skirmish game. I really like the activation sequence. Each unit has a D6 associated with it, then units are activated when their number comes up in a card deck. There’s a turn end card in the deck that forces everyone to reroll the D6 associated with their units. Combat and movement is all resolved with card flips. All in all, a very enjoyable game that has some solitaire potential. After the game ended it was late and I was exhausted, so I headed off to bed.
I slept in a little on Saturday but not too late as I had a game scheduled for myself at 0900 – Kong – Rescue of Ann Darrow. This was a fun little pulp game with toy figures. The players took the rolls of film crews searching Skull Island for Kong and Ann Darrow in an attempt to rescue her and subdue the beast with poison gas. The group was pretty fun, there were giant creatures to wrangle, we completed our objectives and the game was only 2 hours long so there’s wasn’t much to not like about it.
Skull Island adventures:
Afterward, I went out to the car to grab my entries for the Wargames Illustrated Painting Competition. I had debated a bit about what to enter if anything, and as a last minute decision I entered my Warlord M-10 in the Warmachine category, and my Trenchworx Panzer IV in the Open category. After dropping off my entries a group of us walked to the Wegman’s next door for lunch.
When we returned I finally spent some time in the Dealer’s Hall, walking around at a nice leisurely pace. I made a few purchases for some Wild West/Weird West games and then headed to the Flea Market. There wasn’t anything there that caught my eye, so I socialized for a while before we could pick up our entries for the painting competition.
My small haul:
When I went to pick up my entries, my friend Richard was in line in front of me. Richard is a great painter, and was the recipient of Best in Show at last year’s Historicon. He cleaned up again this year with three firsts, a second and a third place entry and his second Best in Show in a row. When it came time to turn in my tickets to retrieve my entries I was very surprised with the results. My Panzer IV took second in the Open category, and my M-10 took first in the Warmachine category and was also voted Best of Theme (100 Years of Tanks) and Best of Warlord Games. I was very flattered and quite frankly shocked by this. Added bonuses are that maybe Richard and I will have a picture of us together in Wargames Illustrated, and now maybe I can let go of Warlord turning me down to do comission vehicle work for them a few years ago.
After the hubbub we headed out for early dinner, which seemed to last a lifetime. When we got back Caleb and I setup my early war game that I had run on Friday, and played a relaxing game of Chain of Command head to head. We talked to a few passers by about the game and the terrain, then packed up and called it a night.
Woke up fairly early again and packed the car for the return trip. We met up over at the Dealer’s Hall for one more quick pass. I found nothing that I needed, and the same for the Flea Market so we headed home. All-in-all Historicon 2017 was a great time, and I’ve had a blast at all the HMGS conventions I’ve attended. Even though Fredericksburg is only an hour away for me, I don’t think I’ll miss that venue much. It was bloody hot – like two rats banging in a wool sock hot – and they have some silly rules regarding alcohol. That said, I certainly didn’t dislike the place and will probably go wherever HMGS holds Historicon in the future (within reason…). Here’s looking forward to Fall In.