I attended Historicon in Lancaster Pennsylvania Thursday 12 July through Sunday 15 July. What follows is a short wrap-up of this year’s experience.
I decided this year that I would leave after work rather than take the day off. That was a bad idea. I didn’t leave until 1530 and hit some bad traffic on 15 outside of Leesburg. After that the traffic cleared up a bit, but it still added an hour to my trip.
I rolled in to Lancaster and checked it at the Hilton Tru next door. If you haven’t stayed, it’s a good place. It’s new, has good breakfast in the morning, decent board gaming space in the lobby and it’s a very easy walk to the Host.
I then made my way over to the Host to catch up with some friends. I thought I was too late to get my badge, but one of the helpful HMGS staff showed me a computer in the lobby where I could print my own. After turning up the brightness on my phone, the QR scanner worked and my badge printed out – easy as pie.
Figuring that because the game I was running started at 1000 I may be able to get away with setting up and leaving it overnight, but someone had a pick-up game going on so I decided I’d have plenty of time in the AM. Actually there were quite a few games going on in the Distlefink Thursday night which was great to see.
Ed and Caleb were hanging out in the Tournament Room playing GMT’s Twilight Struggle. I caught up with them, we had a few beers and then went out for late night dinner. Afterward we just called it a night and hit the sack.
I woke fairly early Friday morning, grabbed breakfast at the hotel and took a quick shower, then drove over to the Host. Most of my morning was spent taking a leisurely approach to setting up for my game at 1000. I did have the great pleasure of meeting Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies while setting up my game, and he didn’t disappoint.
This year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and instead of running WWII games of Chain of Command, I ran games of Sharp Practice set in the French and Indian War. The scenarios were titled “The Rescue of Marguerite Boudreaux”. Here’s the write-up I submitted:
Marguerite Boudreaux has been captured by the British and is being held at a settlement on the banks of the Sinnemahoning River. Her father, the Magistrate Loring Boudreaux, has been able to convince the commander of a nearby trapping outpost that forming a rescue party would be in his best interests. Will the French be able to rescue and return Marguerite, or will the British reaction force foil their plans and retain their hostage?
I knew that all of my pre-registration tickets for this session were gone, but I only had three players show. Fortunately I had an alternate as a walk-up, so game on. The French did well as they were able to route the British force off the board. It was a really great group of players, and I had a great time. I made some minor mistakes with the rules, but it happens.
Afterward I had a large cadre (thanks lads) help me clean up, and then a small group of us “American Lardies” and Richard went to lunch across the street at the Lancaster Brewing Company. Lunch ran long, so when we returned I made my first trip to the dealer’s hall and made my only purchases of the weekend. I picked up some animals from Iron Wind for a friend and grabbed the Empress Cross of Iron character set from Age of Glory.
Later that night we were able to play in Patrick’s large early war What a Tanker game. I ran a Panhard 178 and decided that I would use it like an actual recon vehicle and proceed forward until shot at. I did exactly that and drew fire – a lot of it, helping to expose the flanks of quite a few Hun vehicles. Unfortunately the French were not rolling well and no one was able to take advantage of my foolhardy bravery. I lasted longer than expected, but brewed up none the less. Patrick had a nice bottle of whiskey which helped my emotional distress. Afterward we strolled back to the Tru and called it a night.
I slept in a little on Saturday but not too late as I had a game scheduled for 1000 again. I set up early(ish) as usual and waited for my players to show up. According to preregistration my game was full, and at 1000 there were 4 people waiting and one alternate. I had turned the alternate away (I know, I’m a bad GM for not squeezing people in…) but then two of the player’s noted that the tickets they had (which were not from prereg but picked up that morning) were for a different game. All of us were somewhat confused, but we decided to do a five-player affair which worked out fine.
I was fortunate enough to have another great group and this time the British won. I know the sample size is small, but I’m calling it a perfectly balanced scenario. Much to my surprise as always, I received another PELA award for my efforts. I’m always super humbled by these and very much appreciate the efforts of HMGS and the volunteer judges. As a bonus, I got a total kick-ass HMGS lanyard/badge holder.
Once again I was helped quite a bit with my clean up, and then just wandered around a bit socializing and checking out other games. Here’s a shot of Ed Leland’s excellent Eastern Front Chain of Command game.
I then caught up with Caleb and we headed to the bar for a drink. Not my plan, but that’s where we ended up for the rest of the evening chatting with friends new and old. We then went across the street for late night chow 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, but I was in somewhat of an alcohol rebound haze. I had been debating whether I wanted to start an Eastern Front project for Chain of Command or do pirates for Sharp Practice (spoiler alert – pirates won) but I couldn’t commit to purchasing anything so I just got on the road and headed home.
Overall, this was my favorite HMGS convention to date. I think part of that has to do with hitting my stride as a GM. I’ve learned to manage games better and also that I should only run one game per day. I get exhausted trying to tackle more. Also I’m very glad that I fell in with the guys from “Lard America”. They really are a super bunch and I enjoy their company greatly. Maybe with some luck we’ll have club status by Fall In!.
I feel obligated to comment on the Host. Clearly the new ownership is working on improvements, however this time it seemed like more WIP was going on than at Cold Wars. I noticed marked improvements at CW, but other than the cranking AC not much for HCon. That said, I’m pretty easy to please so I have no real issues with the venue.