Sunday, July 31, 2011

Historicon Review from the Great White North

I noticed this post awhile back, reviewing the wonders which were the Gnome Wars Joust and the first game. Nice to see our Canadian bretheren getting into the game, no matter what my wife thinks about them.

The Japanese Emporer with the bonsai tree is awesome, and the other pictures simply spectacular. They also managed to completely spell out the rules for the joust and found the trash-talking, bounty-placing, little-girl-smacking-around-old-fat-dudes appealing, despite their stereotypical Great White Northern sensibilities.

I certainly welcome the blogger and his friends to any of my events, although with the other cool games they play, I understand if they don't have the time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mepacon Fall 2011

Historicon is over, which means one thing: prepping for Fall-in! With the wife demanding a vacation in Lancaster, I'll be making my first appearance at a Fall-in! since 2002.

The gnome games scheduled are still in the planning stages, and I'll be the first to formally announce them here, but let me give two hints which will help no one.

#1 They will both involve a ridiculous number of trees

#2 The game with my name under it will be a convention theme game (This year's theme is "US Cav"). The actual game is truly known by four people: Jim Stanton, Mike Lung, myself, and a Professor of History at Queens College. It will rock, I guarantee it.

With Fall-in! turning into an extravaganza for me, again Mepacon gets the short end of the stick again. This year's fall con runs November 11-13. I'm already taking two days off for Fall-in!, so another day off to attend Mepacon is out of the question. I'm disappointed. Since my move into Northeast PA five years ago, I may have missed only one or two cons. I'm the con grognard, an institution which should be institutionalized, and its the only time I can peruse new product without driving into the Lehigh Valley (and beyond). It would have been a great platform to playtest my Simpsons-Cthulhu Christmas game, or rerun the Longido portion of Tanga for Gnome Wars.

Perhaps I'll show up Saturday morning, or even Sunday just to support the dealers, see some old friends, and possibly snag some buyout prices at the auction. Or, perhaps I'll still be exhausted from Fall-in! and will simply relax and re-read the post I'm currently working on about the glories of Lehicon IV, back in 1990. Nostalgia is a cure for many an ailment.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(Gnome Wars) The Michael Lung Gallery #2

One minor edit from last week's inaugural pic. It seems like the Swiss Bunny Cav are supposed to be Alpine bunnies, well trained and experienced in the mountain. I call baloney and swiss cheese, although Mr. Lung does have a very nice write-up to justify experienced Cav in the "Bore Wars." We'll get to that eventually, I hope.

Today's showing is a completely scratchbuilt gnome mushroom house. A mixture of this and the Pegasus Model house in the background was my orginal vision of the village in "A Very Gnomish Civil War."

Monday, July 25, 2011

(WW2) Panzer Draisine is (has been for a while) out!

One of the popular searches which bring people to the blog has been "Panzer Draisine." Back in April of 2010 I announced pre-orders were being accepted for it from Brigade. I knew nothing of it, other than it looked awesome, and hey, it was Brigade, a plug never hurt.

Finally, more than a year later, I searched for the elusive item. Not only is it available, but it looks awesome in its 1/56th glory!
While it is a piece WW2 equipment, this goes on my long "rob a bank/hit the lottery" list, right behind the armored and civilian trains Brigade sells.

(edit) And here I now notice that it's part of Company B's lineup. Still available through Brigade Games.

The Apathy of New Releases (August 2011)

Ah, to relive those halcyon days of yore, when we would run down the local game shop on a Thursday or Friday afternoon to see what goodies the gaming gods sent from Chessex, The Armory, or Wargames West. Nowadays, I'm just a bitter man, probably it costs see a softcover sourcebook in gas just to drive to the closest shop. But enough griping, he's the new releases for pre-order from Game Trade Magazine this month.

My personal must-have list: absolutely nothing. Oh, I've updated my want list to reflect the Gnome Wars American Gnomes and the Holy Gnoman Empire figs, but there's nothing here shouts, "Sell your kidneys!"

My wish list: Nothing. Really! Really-really!

My store list: Everything would be, of course, subject to the whims of my imaginary store, but I will highlight the interesting items.

*L5R CCG Second City Set, plus new WoW expansions.

*There are 25 separate items for Flames of War, TWENTY FIVE. And not much under $35.00. Now I watched a little of the FoW National Tourney at Historicon, and the guys seem nice and looked like they were having fun, but the armies they field on one table could cost as much as a couple of rows of tables at an ancients tourney. I admit, I don't get it.

*There are 11 new boxed sets for the continued roll-out for Heavy Gear. Would I as a store owner, in questionable economic times, be willing to invest even one of each into the game line? I would hope that their would be a discounted store starter dispaly with extra posters, promo material, and maybe an extra 5% off cost. Heck,I really hope FoW has that as well

*Talisman Dragon Expansion - The coolest, yet most overrated of the Talisman expansions is back! $ 40.00



*Pathfinder - 3 new Third party products, and a slew of stuff from Paizo

*ELDER SIGN: a new board game from the creators of Arkham Horror.

*Star Fluxx and a Mixed Assortment of Fluxx

*Age of Cthulhu 6 Dreams of Japan

*SETTLERS OF CATAN Official Game Pieces! Read the direct blurb.Expand the Settlers of Catan game with these official game pieces! Each set features four cities, five settlements, and 15 roads from different cultures in history, hand-crafted in fine pewter, complete with a special Robber token modeled after each cultural setting. Scheduled to ship in July 2011.
BAVARIAN GAME SETSFP 1203................................$29.95
CHINESE GAME SETSFP 1201..................................$29.95
EGYPTIAN GAME SETSFP 1202................................$29.95
VIKINGS GAME SETSFP 1200...................................$29.95

*Many new units for Dystopian Wars

*Steve Jackson Games:
Giant cthulhu foam dice. When did big foam dice become $16?
Munchkin Axe Cop from the webcomic.
Munchkin: Conan the Barbarian
*gasp* GURPS Tactical Shooting - Another actual GURPS book? Holy Schniekies!
Trophy Buck - a dice game that looks like farkel or cosmic wimpout.

Axis and Allies: Angel 20 CMG - The Air War begins. Are they the right size of Check Your 6?*D&D dragons collectors set - black,blue, green, red,and white dragon (boo hoo no gold?) $44.95 *Legend of Drizzt board game. 64.99
* MAGIC THE GATHERING: INNISTRAD - Another new set. I am soooooo out of the loop


There's potential there. Potential for profit or diaster.

Friday, July 22, 2011

(LOS) UNE Superfortress... even bigger!

I snagged up this picture from a blog that posted on TMP awhile ago. The UNE Superfortress is the marquee piece from the halcyon days of LOS lore. It's gigantic, a couple a pounds of lead, and may require membership in the ironworker's union to assemble. Truth be told, I've never seen one on a battlefield.

This might be a better option for it.

There is a beautifully painted Superfortress, surrounded by 15mm sci-fi minis. It does give the unit the mecha-quality that it has always demanded. The weaponry on it's left wing isn't stock, but a little customization goes a long way.

I'll try to find the guys blog to give him proper credit.

(Edit: Found it! )

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Eureka Releases S.E.A.L. Team 6!

Per an announcement on TMP, Eureka is releasing S.E.A.L Team Six in 28mm

Six separate poses plus canine set will retail for $16.10. Feel free to paint your own beards on them to make them look more authentic.

Of course, as I discussed here playing 28mm with bin Laden's compounds would nearly take up a 4'x8' table, and there's no room to land the helicopters outside!

(Gnome Wars) The Michael Lung Gallery #1

Here is the first weekly installment of the pile of pictures I took in regard to the modelling, sculpting, and modification of his Gnome Wars collection. I'll post one picture a week, and try to cobble together some house rules, just in case you have the talent/insanity to take this on.

I present to you, for the first time, Swiss Bunny Cav!

Swiss Bunny Cav is rare indeed. Most Swiss are more akin to mining and cheesemaking than riding, plus the terrain of the region isn't condusive to developing experienced riders.

I'm still hammering out some of the rules clarifications for 2nd Edition, so these may need to be revised again.

Swiss Cavalry - Same points as German Cav. Same rules apply with the following exceptions. If the unit wishes to charge, the Swiss horn player in the unit must roll a d8.

  • 1 - Unit freezes. The unit may not move, or even adjust their formation. The gnomes or steeds turn yellow.

  • 2 - Unit runs. The unit rolls for charge as normal, but will turn and run in the opposite direction. They will engage in hand-to-hand with any enemy units they encounter (per standard charge rules). If even one figure reaches/exceeds the table edge, remove the entire unit from play during the medic phase of the turn.

  • 3+ Standard charge.

Any adjustments, recommendations, etc, are always appreciated in the Comments section!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Historicon 2011 Part Five: Swag and Not So Deep Thoughts

In our final chapter, here's the stuff I acquired on my bugdet that was smaller than the "healthy food" budget for most gamers:

First off, the busts:

* No pints/quarts of bases, I guess Friday morning at Fall-in! I descend onto the dealer hall and buy them all up.
* I didn't get to talk to any mini painting services: Between fundage (20%), my one-day blur of a convention (60%), and the painters actually busy talking with customers (20%) I decided to skip this one. I have my pick and will be contacting them shortly, then singing their glories on this log, hopefully.

From the Dealer Hall

  • Gnome Wars 2.0 - If I didn't buy this, I should have just deleted this blog.

  • Eureka Teddy Bearoplanes - Smaller than I anticipated, but I'm dumb like that sometimes. The pictures definitely do them justice, and you get decals of your choice (British, American, or German).

  • Harmony Hobbies - "the dice guys" Just filled in my con game dice sets, and a pink metallic soft tape measurer for my little girl. Daddy did promise her a gift for being gone all day. Two bucks is cheap versus the fully painted Zulu army she'll demand at age seven.

Otherwiswe, my shopping list for Fall-in! has expanded very little. GW Romans and Americans, an extra purchase at Pastimes on the Square for skipping them this con, and maybe a steampunk tank from Iron Winds. Of course I have a shopping list for my "real" Tanga game, and some MBA buildings to buy, but those aren't must-haves within the next 120 days.

Flea Market - I grabbed five books out of a dollar box to make my flea market pledge. Talislanta Worldbook (and I own it already), Robot Warriors from Hero Games, Heroes Unliminted Revised from Palladium, and Arena/Advanced Arena Gladiator Combat. I do follow a blog of a guy up in Canada who has a Gladiator campaign using Savage Worlds, so this intrigued me.

Free Swag - Most people start with this in their con overview, but I figure it belongs in my list of spoils. In my Historicon swag bad with convention guide and a coupon for a free S&T I never redeemed, were two sprues of Perry Miniatures plastic Mahdists. Two figures a sprue with multiple arms and four head a sprue to choose from. Very nice, but they will go on the pile of free plastic minis I've gotten before. On a snowy day were the children are comatose, I will break them out and play around with them.

I also spent my required 30 minutes at the Hobby University, painting up a free mini. I've loved the free classes they offered in the past, but I recommend it for two reasons (1) you're sitting down after a day on your feet and (2) mid-afternoon, these guys had the only trace of AC and air flow I could find. I painted up a nice pulp pilot and helped out a gamer's mom trying to put eyes on a tiny figure. If I were a smart teenage boy (an oxymoron indeed). I would hang out here all convention long. It looked as if every teenage daughter who was dragged to the convention by their father was there painting teddy bears and fantasy figures. Teenage boy or middle-age man who can't talk to any woman, I still recommend the Hobby University and hope they keep it going for next year's con.

Ted Mosby, Architect/Aviator

After all this, all the hullabaloo about casinos, Virginia, and horrible rest stop service, what have we learned? Well, for starters, wargaming is still fun. Heck, I talked to enough dads who came to the con with their kids, and by Saturday afternoon, contented themselves with watching them scalp a few Lego men or going through their spoils with glee. The kids are our future in the hobby, and the con is still cheaper than a weekend of amusement parks or other traffic. Plus, it's (almost) air conditioned.

Moving to Virginia? That's a tough one. It's easy for my friends to say they would follow GenCon if they moved to Oakland. They already spend a considerable sum to travel to Indianopolis, a flight to California and new hotels/facilities would impede their style, but it's still GenCon. Now ask the the guys within a two to three hour drive of Indy (Chicagoland) . I'm leaning towards not going and using a closer venue (NJCon) to run games. And I'm hoping all the supposed Virginia wargamers who won't make the trip up to PA man up take this opportunity, if it indeed happens. We shall see.

Historicon 2011 Part Four: Other Games

So, there were games at Historicon that weren't gnomes. One realization I made while wandering around the main hall is, "I've seen all this stuff before." I can only take so many pictures year after year of High Noon, Burnside's Bridge, or that Age of Sail game with the flags. Yes, some of those games have great variation from session to session, but if you want to see pics of them, look up my report from last year, or even Cold Wars for that matter.

Given that criteria, here's the games that made me go "ooh!" before the battery on the camera went kaput.

WW2 (?) in 54mm is always a treat.

The MBA board under "correct" circumstances

Gunning Down Zombies on the MBA Board

Car Wars? Look at the Size of Those Turning Keys!

ACW Naval with an Appropriately Muddy River

An Indiana Jones Game. Freakin' Sweet.

Endor Speeder Bike Racing

Pirates of the Cari-bear-en

A Lego French & Indian War Kids Game... Scalping Was Commencing

My intrigue with Colonial Africa did get my attention of the Herero War game being played. Using modified rules for The Sword and the Flame, it was a small, simple skirmish game using lichen and real branches as the most complicated terrain. I will need to check out again for updates. One day I can finally work on my 25mm German Colonials, one day!

Next up: Swag and some final notes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Historicon 2011: Part Three - More Gnomes and Innuendo

I thought I could slide all the gnome action on one post, but obviously that didn't happen.

The Joust: I had a pile of people tell me how awesome The Joust was Friday night, yet no one could tell me who won it! All I know is that bounties were at an all-time high! Can't wait to get a chance at Fall-in!

The Stanton Games: The "real" Gnome Wars games that captured the hearts, minds, and wallets of dozens of players took place on the other MBA board:

Pic stolen from another blog

Minor rant time: Sometimes I wonder why I ever read the post-con chit-chat on TMP, because one post out of dozens ends up pissing me off. In the same conversation about why fantasy/sci-fi games are allowed at the con, someone condescendingly remarked that my gnome game had moved to the modern (re: historical) board. I laugh at this for two reason. The "fantasy" board pictured above ran a great non-weird WW2 game while I set up and ran my game. And the while the evening session looked like militants vs Marines, the session after mine focused on the main reason our troops haven't left Iraq.


So what consitutes "fantasy" or "historical"? I don't know, I don't care, so just shut your pie hole, grab some dice, and have some fun!

God, I'm grumpy recently, I need sleep!

Anyway, if this set up looks familiar, it should. It has been a standard display from MBA for the past few years. That doesn't mean Jim's been using a static battlefield.

Each year this is used, two separate battles are fought to ease play with the mass of humanity around the table. One is a tooth-and-nail fight in the village, the other a slugfest for the castle. This year's tweak was the location of the castle walls:

With the main walls at the bottom of the hill, the traditional bottleneck up the castle ramp was eliminated. It also allowed the defenders (IRISH!) a chance to maneuver.

I only caught a portion of the afternoon game, and was too busy helping out the evening game to snap some pictures (camera battery died anyway). The high point for me was watching a unit of bunny cav use a tank as a springboard to jump over the main wall. Of course, most didn't make the jump, and those who did were slaughtered the following round, but it oozed awesomeness.

Don't Try This at Home. Seriously.

In the afternoon game, there was a joint masscre in the village, and the Germans managed to bash down the defenses to try to rescue Lon the Lunkhead.

In the evening game, the village slaughter continued, and if rumors holds true, the Irish were actually going to try and breakout of the castle. I'd love to hear details from the participants.

The Last Line of Defense

Other Gnome Goodies:

Holy Gnoman Empire: The Gnomans are out and they look very nice. The regular infantry are customizable with separate arms available. How the arms come for mail order I never got an answer, and truth be told, it was late Saturday when I thought of it. Lots of special rules to ensure the melee-centric Gnomans might survive a game.

Gnome Wars 2.0: Is out!!!!! Huzzah! It is chock full of new info, including the American Gnomes and... Scottish Cav? I will do a full review as a separate post in the future, and I definitely promise not to be a Gnome homer (Gnomer?) Let's just say the book isn't perfect, and is missing things that reliable sources told me would be in it. Critiquing asise, it's back in print!

The Americans Gnomes: Still in the planning stages, these guys are divided by Northern and Southern Gnomes. I will pick up some Federals, but I really think I'll make them into the Grand Army of the Repulic (or Empire) of California. I just have to be different.

Michael Lung: Some of you might remember the custom Swiss Cavalry officer from Cold Wars. The gentleman who created him is Michael Lung, and he and his son, Scott are now diehard gnome players. Michael has tremendous talent and imagination and has created unique models/figures for the game. My wife can't believe I have the patience and talent to paint regular figures and admits she could never do it. I have the same reaction towards Mike when I see his work:

I snapped up so many pictures of his projects that I turned it into a mini-photo shoot (hence the dead battery by 8pm). Once a week, I'll fill the Gnome Wars void between now and Fall-in! with Mike's work. And to be honest, yes I asked him if I could do this, and no, I don't know if he'll put these custom items up for sale... or commission pieces.

If I did, I'd get my dibs in first before letting the world know.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Historicon 2011 Part Two: Gnome Wars!

Okay, I feel much better, so here's the AAR for my game, "A Very Gnomish Civil War"

First off, much thanks again to the guys at Miniatures Building Authority for letting me use their display table. I walked into the main hall and immediately saw this:

Beautiful ain't it? The board was sans elephant, of course. The elephant was a ceramic planter that my grandmother-in-law made and painted back in the 70's. It's been sitting around the house for years, until my wife told me last year to get rid of it. I had other ideas, and it became the centerpiece of the game, the sacred shrine of St. Pachydermus.
Set-up: This is a Swiss Gnome colonial town. It has been subject to rioting and rampant looting over the last week. The Swiss government has been hesitant to use Federal troops to enforce the peace, but the riots are getting closer and closer to the local cheese refinery.

The Units involved and their objectives:

1st Federal Foot Infantry (Blue) - Relieve/reinforce the refinery

7th Federal Foot Infantry (Blue) - The garrison force currently protecting the refinery. Hold it at all costs.

10th Federal Foot (De Fooze) (Blue) - Relieve/reinforce the refinery with a special mission in addition.

The "Insurgents" (Tan and Green Swiss) - Cause city-wide panic and confusion, and if the opportunity presents itself, seize the refinery.

115th Sikhs - Stranded in this podunk port city, the Sikhs wish to liberate the Shrine of St. Pachydermus from Swiss control. General chaos is encouraged.

Swiss Park Rangers (Tan Hat) - Protect the shrine at all costs

And one very special "surprise" unit, no one knew about.

Early turn action: The Sikhs entered the board on a side street next to the refinery. They calmly marched down the street, came to a halt, and volley fired into the refinery. The 7th Fed took heavy damaged, but managed an uneasy alliance with the Sikhs for most of the remainder of the game. The Swiss Rangers had camped in the rubble outside of the shirne, and scrambled to their positions when word of Sikhs/Federal Troops were coming. By positions, I mean all over the board. One group traded fire with the 7th Fed in the refinery, another group took haphazard positions behind the walls, and one final group met their grisly demise turn one trying to tunnel across the street.

The insurgents had spread across the back alleys of the board. The brown insurgents wisely took cover, and had a limited patrol move from building to building. The green insurgents. spread out more in the open. This proved problematic when De Fooze landed on the docks mere inches from their position. Acting like grateful citizens had no effect, as the De Fooze unloaded their rifles into them. Somehow, one green insurgent survived, and De Fooze hurried along to catch up with the remainder of the relief party.

The relief party returns a warm welcome

At this time, special actions began coming up on the initiative cards. The 7th Fed in the refinery received aid from a Gnome Wizard. Oddly enough, the green insurgents got a wizard too. At the top of a three-story building stood a Highlander, holding a set of golf clubs and some rather explosive looking balls. Highlander mortar would randomly "practice" across the board for the remainder of the game.

The green insurgents tried to get into the backdoor of building along the main street to "spy" on the relief party. The officer opened the door, only to find a bar full of drunken Highlander (no relation to the mortar.) The comedic fashion, they said "Sorry!", shut the door and ran. Only the two Berserkers in the Highlanders, and charged out like Ogre in Revenge of the Nerds. They charged right into the panicking insurgents, only to be slaughtered by them.

The rest of the Highlanders continued drinking.

The Green Swiss Insurgents Interrupt a Private Party of Highlanders

Middle turns:

From a side street in the center of the board, a small convoy of two trucks and a sedan motored through the square towards the refinery. A healthy fear of the unknown allowed the brown insurgents, the rangers, and the 7th Fed to unleash hell onto the unidentified vehichles. Each driver was shot at LEAST twice and the vehicles crash along the street.

Back along the port, the 1st Fed decided to secure the hospital, climbing up to the roof. Although the random Scottish Golf Mortar was teeing off along the edge. They aimed their rifles at the wizard tagging along with the green insurgents.

Can We Have Your Autograph, Mr. MacWoods?

Even a trusty St. Bernard couldn't revive the Master of the Arcane.The green insurgents decided the best course of action would be taunt the drinking Highlanders. They even threw cheese into the bar, but that only scattered them. Of course, the very next round, the Highlanders met their cumulative target number for their objective and started mission #2...

The Swiss Taunt the Drunken Highlanders With Cheese

Later turns:
The 7th Fed defending the refinery moved outside of their facility to provide support for their relief that they saw slowly coming down the main street. The Wizard aiding them wasn't as nice. Gnomelings waddled their way through the back alleys until the got near the building most of the Sikhs were holed up in. A large explosion rocked the city and the Sikhs were significantly weakened. In a panic one of the Sikhs dashed to a shot up truck, discarded the driver onto the road and back it up at full speed towards the shrine. In the same vein as "Charlie don't Surf." We quickly learned, "Sikhs Can't Drive." The Sikh failed a driving roll and crashed into a wall. The brave Sikh jumped out onto the hood of the truck, did his best Scarface impression, and was promptly gunned down.
The Sikhs Try to Commandeer Some Vehicles
The brown insurgents dispatched the wizard's wolves with little problem, and had mopped up the remaining Sikhs. Except for a few buildings on fire, they held the remaining city between the town square and the refinery. Life was good.

The Highlanders had two objectives for this game (a) Chill out at the bar and roll 2d6. When the cumululative total of those rolls equalled at least 40 then, (b) Wander down the street from the bar to Falafel House. The Highlanders burst out of the bar and the green insurgent scattered, a few heading towards the local church (like that would help), and the rest across the street. They engaged the Highlanders, the Rangers, and even a few shots at the 1st Fed.

The Relief Company Catches the Highlanders Jaywalking

Oh, yeah, the relief force. The 10th Fed (De Fooze) wandered around the other side of town, passed the Falafel House and marched through the shrine and was heading to the refinery unimpeded. After spending some turns successfully dodging the mad golfer on the roof, the 1st Fed finally marched down the main street... right behind the Highlanders. The Highlanders simply ignored the fact that some of their stragglers "disappeared" and made it to the Falafel House. Inside FH? The green insurgents. Apparently they made bygones be bygones and had a nice drunk meal.

Tragedy struck the port city twice that day. If the newspaper hadn't been burned to the ground earlier, the top story should have been a lone gnomeling walking into a local Falafel House and self-destructing. Luckily the majority of its patrons, a mass of Highlanders and locals, had already left for greener pastures.

Although we called the game early to help the next fellow with his set up time, I decreed that De Fooze achieved their objective. Oh, they would certainly reach the refinery intact, in fact the traitor amongst them would reach the cheese tanks and set off the explosives strapped to his body. The explosion would take out a quarter of the table with hot molten cheese.

We had an absolute blast playing this. Not one group followed their objective to the letter. Most split up their forces, or got distracted by the "special events" that were occuring. The MBA buildings were a dream to play in. Just about every player wanted to put their forces inside a building "just because." The more modern terrain did not take away from the game play one bit.

Of course, after the game, Jim Stanton "The Gnome Guy" asked for the water on the middle east board to use on the big Gnome Wars game. I was so in awe with the table early in the morning, that I completely forgot to change up the terrain, save the elephant. The water threw me off at the start, but without it, I wouldn't have this final shot

I'm the King of the World!!!!!

The lone insurgent that De Fooze spared stole their boat! Probably the safest place to be with the players we had.

Historicon 2011 Part One: Overview

It's been over 24 hours since I've gotten back from Historicon and things are finally back to normal, which is weird since I was only gone 18 FREAKIN' HOURS!

This year, due to financial constraints, I only went down for one day, and that seemed difficult at times. As you may read previously, I ran my first game at Historicon this weekend, so I've been scrambling around like a Muppet on speed the last few weeks, but that's for Part Two "GNOMES!"

Somehow, by the grace of God, I was actually on the road by 5:45am heading towards the Mecca which is, this year, the Valley Forge Convention Center. Despite many possible disturbances in the Force, some Sith plot known "casino construction, we had the whole facility one last time. As I spilled my coffee in travel mug before I even got out the door, I stopped off at the Allentown Rest Stop on the Turnpike for a nice Turkey Hill lemonade iced tea to compliment my lemon pie which I had previously acquired through nefarious means (or not).

Two hours and ten minutes later, I arrived at the VFCC with a parking spot less than 60 seconds from the door. Either this was a sign that attendance was going to suck... or everybody had a REALLY good time Friday night.

Last year I graded certain things, and I'll try to do it again this year.

FACILITY: B+ My familiarity last year made things a whole lot more comfortable. Things felt a bit more confined than last year for three reasons. (1) The dealer hall had a full wall partition that I KNOW for a fact wasn't there last year. The entrance/exit were two doors in the wall. If I've learned anything from HGTV, walls make spaces smaller. (2) The flea market (Wally's Basement) moved to where the Duke had his extravaganza last year. Despite having just as many tables in the area, the migrating mobs of humanity can make one claustrophic. (3) With actual picture evidence, the Flames of War National Tournament tables were filled with people!

Last year I must have been on the same break schedule as these guys, because every time I would walk by, the place was barren. Without looking at the con program map, I'd reckon they used up forty tables. But hey, they're not playing with gnomes or zombies, so it's alright. .

Registration: Took three times as long last year! Of course, that means it took thirty seconds to hit the GM Reg desk, grab my badge and swag bag, and have a quick conversation with a human being. A+

Dealers Hall: B. The Great Wall of Vendors notwithstanding, there was a weird vibe in that part of the building. Most of the old reliables were there (Brigade, Belle and Blade,Old Glory, Eureka, Harmony Hobbies) with only ATKM being the only no-show I really cared about. The first thing I noticed about my first walk-through was just noticeable gaps in products. The dealer I only refer to as "the quart of bases" guys were completely out of 25mm round bases. Being that I checked them out right around 2pm, I guess that's acceptable. A major bummer, but acceptable. I was also aghast that the War Store had NOTHING I wanted. Not a single Pegasus Models building? Really? Now, Nic and the other guys from Eureka were pleasant but swamped, and Lon at Brigade had a steady stream of customers (or people wanting to hold packs of lead and chew his ear off.) Perhaps it was the lighting, perhaps it was the insanely limited budget I had this year. I guess we'll never know.

Flea Market: B- For the first time ever in HMGS con history, I was actually in the line for the flea market while it was opening up. I spent my $5 I thought necessary, but that was it. There were tables of the same old 40k, tanks, mediocre terrain, and weird miscellany, but I did notice some things that might have piqued my interest if circumstances were different. Guys bringing in old 15/25mm sci fi minis in their original packaging, and offering reasonable prices to boot. One guy had a giant box of painted Eureka Teddy Bears for $200. Another guy had a painted German gnome unit, plus the rulebook for $130. The gnomes I would look over the paint scheme with a fine tooth comb and offer $20 less, but at least there was something for to go "oh snap, where's there an old lady with a purse full of cash I can mug?"

Food: C+ As I am crying poverty, I didn't partake in much site food. My wonderful wife packed up a nice sack lunch and I had two 2-liter bottles of Mountain Dew to provide liquid encouragement. Unfortunately I packed my half-eaten lunch in the trunk for over an hour when I forgot it was in my container of event paraphenalia, so I did consume a $3.00 hot dog. Prices for larger items seemed about a buck higher than the Host, and most lines for food at lunchtime moved pretty quickly. My only minor quibble was that after being given a plain hot dog, the indifferent staff didn't have the energy to say the condiments table was on the other side of the equipment blocking it's view. It's insigniciant, as I found it ten seconds later, but I guess that the woman's tirade on one of her babies' daddies (I kid you not) was much more.

Lodging: F--. As I drove down for the day, I didn't have a room. Nor will my wife ever allow me to stay at a Radisson or Scanticon hotel after last year's debacle. However, I am hunting down the phone number for whoever runs the Allentown Rest Stop. That, and the car fire between Allentown and Lehighton that shut down traffic for a hour FELT like staying in a bad motel. When I left on time contraints, I figured a ten minute detour at the rest stop to pick up some Roy Rogers would make the day complete. Now, before the Turnpike Commission went crazy with "modernizing" the rest stops, I could get in a giant line at Roy Rogers, grab things a la carte and get checked out, top my burger, and be back on the road in five minutes, ten with a bathroom break first. After watching the girl behind the counter tell the three groups in front of me that they were out of chicken finger/strips/whatever, after the group hemmed and hawed over the menu and finally decided on them was bad. Having to announce each food item over a sound system better fitting for a ballpark got really annoying. But then realizing that there were a total of seven families still waiting for food to come out of the magical opening, and nothing had come out while I had been in line. I just gave up and walked back to the car, to munch on stale Doritos and Mountain Dew for the remainder of the ride. Thank God Michelle got pizza that night!

HMGS Rumors and Inuendo: No Grade. The site for next year is not confirmed. I couldn't even confirm the FOUR sites for next year: Fredricksburg, Hampton, Valley Forge with a smaller footprint, and York.

Yes, York. Home of barbells and York College. It seems they have a convention center good enough for model railroaders. York is an intriguing option, for selfish logistical reasons.

Also Bob Giglio, the tireless Historicon Convention Director, has become tired and decided to retire. There were numerous fliers posted around the site looking for interested applicants to replace him. Oh if I didn't have two little ones... and seeked a divorce from my wife, I would go for that in an instant.

edit: After giving this a quick proofread. I'm incredibly whiney about things, especially non-gaming people. First off, deal with it. Secondly, I'm one of the easiest customers someone will ever have. I want my stuff. I don't want any variation or substitution on my order, and I'll even say please and thank you. Just give me my damn food and easy access to the other stuff. And I've found most Flames of War guys to exceed my capacity to whine and the product to overpriced and vanilla, much akin to 40k or Magic. Outside of that, my time at the con was fantastic and I hope it shows though the next posts

Coming soon:
Part Two "A Very Gnomish Civil War" Battle Report and pics from Jim's game.
Part Three: Other Games I haven't previously posted pics of in previous years, and minimal swag.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Have Returned... from Historicon 2011

It's 1:30 in the morning, and after a horrendous drive up the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike, I'll keep it short.

My one day foray into Historicon was an absolute blast.

If I somehow forget to mention them in my con recap posts, I'd like to thank:

  1. Miniatures Building Authority for letting me use their awesome Middle East board for my game.

  2. Jim Stanton for hooking me up with MBA, and a pile of ideas we bounce off each other. The gnome fanatics (gnomiacs?) are DOOMED for Fall In! Mwhahahaha!

  3. Mike Lung and his son, Scott, for allowing me to photograph all his awesome custom GW stuff, plus posting it on the blog. It might take awhile, but trust me, it's worth it!

  4. The guy from the Brigade Games booth, whose name escapes me. He magically showed up with bottles of Yuengling Black and Tan between sessions when the secret beer stash dried up. That alone got me through the first 90 minutes of the "village" side of the scenario.

  5. A very patient and loving wife.

Over the next week, I'll post the same convention write-up format that I did for last year's con.

Viscount Eric needs sleep badly.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Historicon is "almost" here!

While scores of gamers have already descended onto the Valley Forge Convention Center, flying WW2 fighters, re-fighting the English Civil War, and turning the bathrooms into a Superfund site, I have one more LOOOONG day to go before I can make the pilgrimage. Somehow, a miracle has happened here in northeast PA.

The car is packed and ready to go.

I just need to gas up on the way home tomorrow and pack a few rations to avoid the on site food prices, but I'm completely ready to go. With the exception of one oversized item, my entire "A Very Gnomish Civil War" game fits in one tote.

Oh yeah, I forgot about the "big announcement" that was on the down-low this past weekend.

"A Very Gnomish Civil War" will not be played at whatever table it's listed in the book. It will be played on one of Miniatures Building Authority's display tables. Many thanks to the man, the myth, the Gnome Guy, Jim Stanton for pulling some influence to get me a quality table, and maintain what little sanity I have left.

Only one problem though. My garden-gnome-inspired game will now take place in Fallujah. I have the MBA's Middle East table. Luckily I have pictures of last year's table and managed to tweak some of the unit objectives. This has allowed me to leisurely paint up the Swiss Rangers, put the kibosh on the Engineers (won't need them), and feel slightly guilty that my refinery is pretty juvenile. Thank God I only need them for one corner of the table.

It feels strange to be ready so soon. I'm used to the last day crazed activity to get a basic RPG ready. Here's hoping MBA is suitably impressed by my professionalism and I could be invited back to fill in empty timeslots with fun games and a nice promotion of their product.

Ahhh... sleep. I've missed you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

(Gnome Wars) Swiss Park Rangers Finished!

The first full pictures of the Swiss Park Rangers (SPR), complete with Bicycle Tank!

The Swiss Rangers of the Sacred Shrine of Chucaquatre

The SPR were imagined during the first game of our Wishing Well Campaign. It seemed to make more sense to have actual park rangers fight the German invasion, than engineers or a training company on work detail. Of course, this means the SPR would need to pack some serious firepower.

SPR are under the command of the Ministry of the Interior, charged with the care, maintenance, and protection of the numerous holy shrines. With thousands of gnomish pilgrims arriving every year, a simple ranger hat and four wheel drive would not cut it.

A typical SPR unit is prepared for three tasks: daily upkeep, crowd control, and first aid to injured visitors. Pickaxes/miners spend their days tending to campsites, building fences, and countering the wear and tear on inconsiderate pilgrims. Cheese Grenadiers are dispatched when campsite rentals are up, clearing them with Limburger goodness, if needed. Only during a significant brawl with the SPR arm themselves with rifles to dispatch the brouhaha.

In the event of massive crowds, the SPR Commander will authorize the use of a bicycle tank. The tank is still armed with a light machine gun, but budgetary constraints, and a desire to prevent civilians from using heavy weaponry limit its use. Each time the machine gun is used, a d6 is rolled. On a 1 the tank runs out of machine gun ammo for the remainder of the game.

Unlike the military models, the SPR Bicycle Tank is also equipped with a 360-degree turret with interchangeable weapons. The turret can fire either gas, buckshot, or solid shotgun ammo.

Gas Cannister: 13-24” 5+ to hit / 25-36" 6+ to hit /6+d6” deviation on a miss, ignores traditional cover modifiers.

When the canister explodes, it envelopes the area within a 6” radius. On turn two, it expands to 12” and one turn three 15”. Most gas dissipates at the end of six turns.

Shotgun (buckshot) 1-6” 4+ to hit / 7-12” 6+ to hit /
Those figure within are subject to an attack. Cover does effect this roll. Figures are subject to a blast area square six inches wide and twelve inches long.

Shotgun (solid) 1-12” 5+ to hit Targets one figue.

These weapons are not subject to the -1 movement penalty like the machine gun is.

Before the start of the game, the player must determine one type of round to fire from that gun. No other shots can be fired, unless precautions are made in the scenario to rearm at a safe location.

The Rangers depart to chase out those who missed the 10am checkout

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

For someone who complains about a potential move of a con a couple of hours, I sometimes forget some peoples' journeys do qualify for pilgrimage status.

Therefore I present: Frozen Gamer AK . I don't envy this guy. He's flying from Anchorage, Alaska to Houston to Philly just to go to Historicon. At least he's passed all of his trials thus far.

I do envy him that he's able to be at the con the full Thursday-Sunday schedule. One doesn't go to Mecca to snap a picture and turn around, might as well be there awhile.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

(Gnome Wars) Holy Gnomie Releases at Historicon

A whole bunch of things are occuring on the Gnome Wars front.

#1 - First off, Brigade Games has a blog! It's located on the top row of tabs on the main page.

#2 -To my surprise, Lon posted the preview pics of the Holy Gnoman Empire army to be available at Historicon next weekend!

Looks like the healer (more of an oracle), the NCO, and Officer

A Standard Bearer (ooh new troop type!) and musician...

Standard Infantry with multiple arms!
Complete Ballista Crew

While I am stoked about their release, I definitely have questions that better be answered quickly. First off, why is a Greek Oracle the healer? Perhaps I'm missing the obvious with that one.

Second, what are the rules for standard bearers? Are they going to become a stock troop type? Are the existing races going to get appropriate figures, and if so, when and are they mandatory.

Finally, are the multiple arms for standard infantry purchased like that or is Lon just showing the different arm types available for standard troops (sword/shield, spear/shield, two swords, unarmed, etc)?

I will pick up as many figures as possible, to give an honest review and paint job of them, but a full army is not on my short term list. It definitely explains how Travelocity can "negotiate" cheaper rates on hotels and airfare (The Roman Gnome, get it?)

#3 - Brigade also announced that Holy Gnoman Cav is currently in the planning stages, which is good, considering I see absolutely zero missle weapons in this army. They're going to need all the help they can get against gun-happy Germans. Of course, perhaps the Holy Gnomans are ALLIES of the Germans, basically what the Irish are to the Allies.

#4 -The next big piece of news is the actual, honest-to-God release of Gnome Wars 2nd Edition at the con. It's been a long time coming, and I just hope all the old typos are updated, all the nationalities detailed (including some-yet-to be released ones), and the rumored gladiator and joust rules are included.

#5 - The American Civil War Gnomes are in the pipeline for release next. No set timetable, but this got my buddy Brian Nichols and I thinking. If the troop types stay pretty "stock", with more emphasis on paint color than sculpt, we could have many more nationality options a la Deadlands or Aces and Eights. Union, Confederate, the Republics of Texas and California, a Mormon Gnome Army. Heck, they may even work as troops for banana republics. I'm definitely getting more details from Lon next weekend.

#6- Not a Brigade Games announcement, but one dealing with my A Very Gnomish Civil War game. I can't provide details yet, but something big could occur to radically change my game. Despite my vision for the scenario, I could not turn down this opportunity. I'll keep everyone informed as things are finalized. I'll just say that Jim Stanton has become a deity on my gaming legends chart, and he's just being a nice guy.

Stay tuned, but finally a link to the Brigade Games blog... (yes that's the way Lon typed it):

(Poll) And the game I'm running for Christmas is...

Over a month ago, I posted a poll on this site, as well as my Facebook page, asking you, the fanatic gamer, just what should I run for the annual Christmas game. It's late, and I've worked my fingers to the bone painting tonight so I won't hunt down the original post.

My thanks to the thirty or so people who voted. It's not much of a suprise:

With almost half the total votes cast, A Simpson/Cthulhu Christmas using TOON will be my project, post-Historicon. The great news is the characters are essentially done, and I can rob from pop culture and tradition at will to make the plot for the two or three episodes. I was going to go with four episdoes, but my buddy "Mighty River" (aka Phil) wants to run a TOON Kwanzaa Spectacular as well. Should be good times.

Second place wasn't much of a surpise, as Star Wars: The Land of Misfit Droids II made the only strong competition to Simpsons/Cthulhu. This I will eventually run, but I will make I save it so I can run it later in the future as well. I lost all notes and characters for Misfit Droid I, so I guess I can just add to the premise and go from there.

Thanks again to all who participated. I'll have a new poll up just after Historicon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

(Gnome Wars) Swiss Park Rangers

The hurried panic of the week before Historicon has calmed down a bit. I have some details and drybrushing to go, but the Swiss Rangers are finally painted:

I patterned them after park rangers. The Evergreen shade from the Americana line came up a bit too dark for effective blacklining. I was forced to use a lighter shade (Raw Sienna) for the belt than I had wanted.

Hopefully, between tonight and tomorrow morning, the Rangers will be finished and packed up, and I can set my sights on repainting the Engineers and finishing up the refinery for the game.