Saturday, July 24, 2010

Prepping for campaign: Heavy weapons and accessories

In my search for heavy machin guns, mortars, cannons, and rocket packs, I stumbled onto new website (too me at least) Lots of 25/28mm stuff ranging from Colonial Era to WW2. The pictures of the painted fig/vehicles on the website aren't high quality for 25mm, in fact, they are only an adequate paint job for a giant 10 or 15mm game. Still, the machine guns and field artillery are available seperately and are cheap!

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a very loyal Brigade Games customer. I just made a small purchase thanks to their "free shipping" promotion through the 1st. I absolutely love Lon's stuff. His kits have minimal parts and are solid pieces at the very worst. It's tough trying to balance out a kit for half the price, but that has three times the pieces. I'll double check Brigade before I think about these new guys. did have a nice set of mules that will be necessary for the Longido/Tanga Campaign, but I still went with the double the price set of pack mules with removable packs.

Prepping for the next campaign...

We as a family have recovered from Historicon, and if it weren't for this oppressive heat, might actually feel like being productive.

I've begun prepping for the next Gnome Wars campaign. As I stated before, my two big book purchases were Skirmish Elite: Tanga 1914 and Colonial Campaigns: The Zulu Wars. Both I've read, digested, and ripped them apart to make them gnome friendly. Tanga actually covers two separate engagements: The battles on Longido Moutain, and the actual battle of Tanga in German Souteast Africa. Logistically speaking Longido could be prepared the fastest. I already have enough figures (Sikhs would represent German Askaris), and the investment would be in foam insulation board (it is a mountain campaign afterall) and additional machine guns and artillery. Oh yeah, throw in another tan battlemat and some lichen for the brush, but it's doable rather quickly.

Tanga would require lots of roads, a dozen buildings, and a few other pieces of scenary. Since it is a battle for a colonial port town, it's not suprising that civilians are listed in the rosters, so I'll need a few special figs for that.

The Zulu wars put me in a perdicament. For starters, if both German Souteast Africa campaigns are run, I've got more than a year and a have to plan. Second, a number of the scenarios are cavalry-heavy. It's less of a problem, since the British are being replaced by German gnome colonial troops, but the sheer number of cav units makes my bank account tremble in fear. Third, the zulus. There are currently no African gnomes available. Given the large numbers of Zulus necessary, even with a good troop to figure ration and recycling the units, the Zulus will not be of gnomish origin and must be cost effective. Any suggestions might help.

The fourth issue follows directly on the heels of the third. Eureka Minis make fantastic Teddy Bear soliders. Their line does include a British Colonial and Zulu Bear army. The line would be perfect for Rorke's Drift, but is not expansive enough for some of the other battles. At $2 a figure, it might be nice just to pick up a few at the next con.

Now it's time to put the hammer down and declare a game day. Just about everyone's pussy-footing around the issue, and I want to chuck some dice! Worst case, if the group does fall apart, I have an offer to play in nearby Swoyersville, as well as a miniature group that tends to play on alternating Saturdays just off of I-81 in Wilkes-Barre.

And the picture of the day I discovered:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Historicon 2010 Part Four: The Spoils of War

Of course, for some, it's not about the game, it's about how much cool stuff one can obtain at the Dealer's Hall. Now someone had pointed out that the new setup and at least doubling of a vendor space, the number of vendors dropped from 90+ down to around 65. Except for one dealer (Thoroughbred), I couldn't remember the names of any of the missing ones.

I had my stowed away savings and spread a small bit to the companies I'm loyal to (Teddy Bears at Eureka, Terrain at the War Store, Pastimes). I held back at ATKM just because I have a large number of unpainted unbased 54mm AWI figures, and I've got to get some of them done before I can buy anymore Cav or Indians.

Brigade Games got the bulk of my money, as I picked up the new gnomelings and sushi cannon, more Swiss and German units, and two campaign books: A nice book on the Zulu Wars, and another the Eastern African theatre during World War I (Tanga). The gnomes will have a variety of battles to choose from, and I might actually finish my "superplan" if I can only get the right items cheap and in bulk.

The flea market was neat and organized compared to years past, but few items caught my eye, and nostalgia bought my only item, a cheap copy of the Rifts RPG.

I stopped by the Painting University and spent 20 minutes painting a (Russian?) sailor to pass the time before the flea market opened. I can at least attempt to paint a true 25mm figure with just one brush. The right sized one, and I might be dangerous:

I did also attend the HMGS Board of Directors meeting. With 1,300 members, only 300 or so voted in this year's election. Out of that roughly 25 members wandered into the 8am meeting. I have tenative confidence in the new board. They spoke of openess and communication, they tried to answer questions as best they could, and they admitted that they wouldn't rule out the Baltimore Convention Center if membership grew 600%, but not until then.

My current con goal is twofold: first, try to get a Burning Plastic game run at Fall-in! and second try to figure out a gnome scenario for the Cold Wars '11 theme: South American Revolutions.

Historicon 2010 Part Three: The Other Games

The theme for Historicon was "Pike and Shotte: Warfare in the 17th Century. I didn't see many theme games being played, but I believe that has more to do with (a) It's not my thing and (b) none were eye-catching displays. Outside of the Duke's displays there were many "forgetable" games that were naval battles on blue cloth or 15mm Napoleonics with felt terrain. You certainly don't need $5,000 worth of Miniature Building Authority's terrain to have fun, it just makes it eye-catching.

This might be the only theme game I took notice of, they used led lights in the fire.

The Alamo in 54mm... I reckon that's a lot of Mexicans

Yes, my friends, a Boldo sighting!

Germany vs. Brazil, apparently the GM was not an octopus.

A fantastic pulp game involving a mystic banana (that's what she said..)

Here is the Gnome Wars Joust, a double elimination tournament using GW mounts and rules from a "respectable" historical game. I went 1-2 despite some great tactics and rolls. Pictured here is Rosalie of the Rosary, one of the newest GW celebrities. She rolled through the opposition, collecting multiple bounties until Jim "The Gnome Guy" Stanton stood in her way. Faced with Jim's swagger and trash talking, Rosalie pulled out her Rosary to give her strength! All was for naught, as Jim unhorsed her in an all-business manner. Jim got to the finals, finally running out of gas vs the 2010 Historicon champ, Rich. Fun was had by all.

28mm Modern using Miniature Building Authority buildings. I must take a picture of the Falafel House everytime I see it.

Alas, I did not have time for one of the Gnome Wars supergames, but upon visiting it, things were well in hand. Lots of players with new units I had not seen on the battlefield before. My God, there was a full unit French, and they were firing at the enemy!!!! The balloon contraption was pretty nifty, and I saw a couple of the Gnomenizer tanks rolling through the town.

Paper ships re-creating a sea battle of the Great Northern War. I post this as this is the same system Archi played his 12-hour epic Age of Sail game. The GM ran three different games, as the flags were changed for each scenario. Go Sweden!
Beyond that, the tournaments (FoW, DBA, etc) seemed sparsely attended, but that could be due to the change in venue making setup look different. There was a Battletech room, a few Car Wars events, and a return of Sandscape, a Heroscape-based system that ran minis games for the French Foreign Legion defending Fort Zinderneuf (same as I played at Cold Wars), as well as a Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen kids game.
I had arranged to leave at 4pm Saturday, so I did miss out on the beaucoup events. We'll work on a two night stay next year.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Historicon 2010 Part Two: Uncle Duke's Diamond Jubilee

The high point of Historicon for me was Duke Seifried's Diamond Jubilee. At 75, "Uncle Duke" has decided to retire from his "extravaganzas" and used Historicon as his last hurrah. He and his crew brought a dozen of his fantastic games to run all weekend:

This is the British Colonial Khyber Pass game using The Sword and the Flame I played Friday afternoon. British and Sikh troops had order to clear the Pass of tribesman. Our plans went horribly wrong. Despite dispatching the tribesman in the village at the far end of the board early on, they regrouped and pinned my left flank in their starting position. The center had small groups of tribesmen harassing the center's artillery positions. Only the right flank move into the mountains and routed the tribesman.

The Zulu! game I played Saturday afternoon. The near end is Rorke's Drift and the far end is Isandlwana. I teamed up with my British Commander at Khyber Pass, Scott Salvatore, and we ran the Zulus as vicious and savage as we could, running roughshod over two young boys in their early teens playing the British. Despite claiming they had played in a few other Zulu War games, they failed to keep the lines tight and fall back when needed, so I'm pretty certain, unlike the movie Zulu, Michael Caine died this time.

The Medieval Siege Game

Aztecs vs. Conquistadors

ONE HALF of the Ancients Game
My wife toured the "Duke Room" which had a few other games as well, and commented, "Did this guy do anything else or have a job? This is way too time consuming."
Well my memory might be shaky, but he has been a wargamer since he was a young boy, a writer of rules, a sculptor of thousands of figures, which have sold in the tens of thousands from the '60s and '70s and later. He was EVP of TSR and was instrumental in the mass market distribution of the red and blue box D&D sets in Waldenbooks, etc.
"Apart from his life in lead—the material miniature soldiers used to be molded from—he graduated from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, in 1957 with a degree in Speech/Radio-Television and later participated in an oral history of that school. He talks about his work as a director in children’s television in Ohio when TV was black and white. Later, he got into advertising and wrote jingles for Frigidaire. A talented guitarist, he was part of The Cool Jazz Trio with Connie Austin and Wayne Wiley in Madison, Wisconsin."
Uncle Duke was one of the men who got me into Historical Wargaming. Orgins '95 was in Philadelphia that year, and my buddy Wooly and I came down to demo Legions of Steel. The miniatures section of the con was dominated by Duke's Norwest Frontier game, with his wraparound backdrop and lighting (every four foot had a lamp attaced to it about seven foot high, hot as hell, but awesome for photography.) I didn't know who that dude was, but dammit I wanted to be like him and his... professional way of promoting a silly hobby.
Oh yeah, all the boards pictured here are for sale, in fact nearly everythings for sale. Here's the link:
I will just note that, through a credible source, the Northwest Frontier game I was playing in Friday had already sold.... for $20,000!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Historicon 2010 Part One : Basic Grades

This weekend was the #1 priority on my convention list: Historicon. I knew going down that the new venue at the Valley Forge Convention Center was going to be a challenge, not so much for the sprawling facility, but the fact that my wife, our little girl, and my mother-in-law were coming to do some 'shopping in the great King of Prussia area.

Before the pics, let's get the ratings out of the way.

Site: B- , if only for the unfamiliarity of the site, and the fact that I ended up in the BattleTech room about ten times by accident. No major problems with noise, the thirty miles of walking beat down my legs more than the tile flooring in the hall, and the bathrooms were moderately clean (I magically eliminated the urine smell in one by holding the handle down for a mere four seconds. If it ain't flushing, try it again people!)

Registration: A++++ ten seconds to pick up my pre-reg. Can't recommend online prereg enough.

Dealers Hall: B+ Spacious compared to the Tennis Barn at the Host. I could sense the unease with the added costs the dealers had to absorb for the new format, but it generally had a professional atmosphere rather than the professional flea market aura from other cons. The only dealer I regularly deal with that had problems was Brigade Games. I felt a bit claustrophobic in there, especially since I deal with minis in the tubs, and not blister packs.

Flea Market (aka Wally's Basement): C+ actually was pretty spacious as well, except around 10am of the Saturday session. Lots of old boardgames, lots of various scale armor, and mostly GW crap after that. I snagged Rifts up for a couple of bucks (oh nostalgia).

Food: B+ Some may lament the lack of variety of food vs The Host, but per the HMGS meeting Saturday morning, the VFCC was working with HMGS to provide a menu similar to the one we're accustomed to (including a Saturday night pig.) When HMGS signs the contract for next year, that will be twelve months of working on a better variety. I became addicted to the Smoothie stand ($3 for a smoothie or a beer? The smoothie was cold and kind healthy, plus I played better with smoothie in hand.) $2 for a can of soda was a bit much, though. In addition to that there were two pages of local restaurants that offered 10-20% off your bill by presenting your badge, and if you couldn't stand the 5-10 minute drive, each restaurant in the complex offerred a 10% discount.

Lodging: F- : I did hear some nice things about the Scanticon, but alas, we stayed at the Radisson, which was simply one problem after another. My wife couldn't check in on time, our room was switched, we were promised an additional discount which was not documented. No one could give directions to the pool (simply, go past the elevators and follow the signs to the fitness, we had NO air conditioning, and my wife was hit with a barrage of unprofessional attitude by the cleaning staff, the Cafe Soleil staff, and the lady in the gift shop, all within the last hour before checkout. Needless to say, a quick conversation with the hotel manager, and we were comped the room (go Michelle!). Next year if we go down with two future gamers, we'll try the Scanticon.

HMGS Membership Meeting: B This is the first time I attended a board meeting, but since I couldn't sleep in the sauna of room 1203, I was up for the 8am meeting anyway. Standard meeting fare, with the newly elected board members trying to get their feet wet and trying to do the right thing at the same time. We did not achieve a quorum to approve THREE meetings worth of minutes, but that makes sense. HMGS has 1300 members, just under 300 voted in the election, and they can't get 40 members to show up for a quorum. Two things that caught my attention: HMGS is no longer communicating with the BCC through lawyers, which means there's still no resolution, but at least both sides are being cordial to one another. Second: The theme for Cold Wars 2011 will be South American Revolutions... can this be accomplished with gnomes?

Friday, July 2, 2010

ATKM 2nd Edition now available

My true pet project is playing 54mm AWI (aka Revolutionary War). It's quite large and quite expensive, but I do enjoy playing it via All the King's Men rules.

The second edition is now available... FREE as a pdf file:

The new rules have the same play flow, but now additional modules will enble you to play multi-player games much smoother. They've been playtested up to 14 players!

For those who desire a hard copy, a printed version is available for $10.00.