Monday, March 10, 2014

(Cold Wars) I Survived Cold Wars and I didn't even get a T-shirt

After weeks of planning, hours of painting, and my normal contingent bailing on me, I have gone to, and returned from Cold Wars, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 

This year was a bit sad, as none of my normal crew was coming down with me for the "guy's weekend" or beer drinking and wargaming.  Just adds up that I have an awesome wife to let me escape the kids for the weekend, and an awesome job that let's me have the time off.

After dropping the kids off at day care on Friday morning, I hit the road and reached the Host by 10:30, picked up my GM badge with no hassle, and brought my stuff down to the Distelfink ballroom.

Our fearless gnome leader, Jim Stanton, announced he wasn't showing up on Friday to run his game, but fellow Stout Gnome Mike Lung and myself would have none of it.  Combining what we each brought, we managed to throw together a Gnome Wars scenario that not only was historically accurate (outside of the gnomes and frogs), still fit the minuscule two hour time slot, but fielded 12 players in the process.  More on the Siege of Apia in a separate Cold Wars/Gnome Wars post.

55 Days in Peking
After hitting the flea market and dealers hall, I drove over to the Continental to check-in and unload all my stuff.   The plan was to come back at a decent hour to flock and drybrush a few of the banana trees for my Saturday morning game.   I knew my plans would quickly fall apart, as my first thought after unloading was to grab Wawa for dinner, plus a hoagie for the post-bar munchies.  My second thought was to leave the car at the Continental and dodge traffic on 30 to get back to the host.

Aerosan Racing
Friday night seemed to have a lot of overflowing games, but also a number of games with only two or three players. I found it odd that most of them were just happy with the players they got and didn't seem too keen for more, even at 7:59pm.

AWI Battle of Springfield

Battlefleet Gothic

I ultimately watched the folks at Alien Dungeon set up a table of All Quiet on the Martian Front right in front of me in the ballroom foyer, so I jumped in willingly.

I had promoted this Kickstarter when it came out, but did not pledge, and I have two official statements to make: (1) I was a fool for not putting some money aside for this and (2) those of you who are still waiting, be patient, it shall be worth the wait.

The scenario was a few Martian tripods versus a mixture of British infantry, armor, and artillery.    The British took the early initiative and knocked out three of the tripods with armored cars and infantry!  The artillery and tanks couldn't hit the broadside of a barn, and my rolling the mass number of dice netted a ton of lucky penetration hits which levelled the invaders.

All Quiet on the Martian Front BEF Coil Gun

Martian Tripods
I may have overextended my forces, or the Martian player just got smarter, but the Martian heat rays did short work on my units.... and the heavy guns still failed to hit anything significant.  The remaining artillery and tanks fled the field with much haste.  Not saying I'm going into this, but it was a great demo.

The Infantry and Armoured Cars Had Been Unstoppable... Until Now
After that, we hung out in the Old Dominion room as our friends, Codename: The Canadians were finishing up a game of Mein Zombie.  I have zero familiarity with zombie games, but they had one group playing sloppy and getting slaughtered while the other (Canadian) group used teamwork and tactics, and still had a rough go of things. 

Lord of the Rings

Auto Racing - Always a fun draw

54mm WW2?

Mein Zombie!
That lead us to the whole reason many of us get away for the weekend.  Mike, his son Scott, the Canadians, and myself ventured upstairs to the hotel bar for "shop talk."   We eventually commandeered Lon from Brigade Games over so , so many of our discussions are off the record, but I came out of it with a few universal truths.

  1. We'll all be working together to add some much needed (but not mandatory) fluff to flesh out the rulebook, possibly adjusting point totals and unit strengths.  Nothing's off the table, but we want two new fans to be able to buy the two different nationalities and each have a chance of beating the other.
  2. Some people just don't like sculpting certain types of figures, thus avoiding an almost guaranteed cash cow.
  3. Reapercon is highly recommended to anyone who wants to improve their painting and/or sculpting.
  4. Brigade Games has some cool random releases coming out.
  5. The Anthropomorphic Animal World will soon be all a buzz
  6. Gnome Wars as a game may make an appearance at GenCon 2015.
  7. Troeg's Mad Elf  will kick every one's ass in sufficient quantities.
We closed the bar, and I staggered across US 30 to my room, my sandwich, and every one's favorite activity: flocking trees.  Fifty two banana trees were finished before I passed out, only to wake up at 7am to get ready, snag breakfast, and set-up my game.

Despite some minor logistical terrain issues, my Second Samoan Civil War game went off beautifully.  Between the naval bombardment actually causing casualties and the pro-Anglo forces moving so swiftly that they avoided part of the rebel ambush, the game's outcome did not reflect the history books.

I am a bit sad, however, that the only picture of the whole table came out blurry:
The First Battle of Vailele, Second Samoan Civil War
Jim finally made it after lunch and with great assistance, set up the Gnome Mega-Game.  This year's theme was the Battle_of_Saragarhi with three tables.  Saragarhi was the center table, with the Fort Gullistan and Fort Lockart bookending it.   It was a "Sikh vs the World" game with all other nationalities making the Afghan hordes.  By this time (3pm), the lack of sleep finally catching up with me, a few "interesting" players, and the fact that our signalled requests for artillery were coming back incomplete, causing one of the barrages to hit the signal tower, I recused myself, and passed out in my car for an hour of napping.

Gnome Wars - Fort Gullistan

54mm ACW
After a quick jaunt to the flea market and dealer's hall, I met up with the crew, enjoyed a much need burger at Five Guys and spent the rest of the evening playing in the Gnome Joust, some much needed time in the massage chair, and the Stout Gnomes commandeering a room next to the bar for the Great Gnome Race.  The joust had over thirty people in it, which would normally make us the rowdiest corner in the room, but we had some Moby Dick whale hunting game next to us that was equally fantastic!  The gnome race was a wild goose chase, as Kevin's Irish Goose Cavalry figure took over the lead halfway around the track and never looked back.
Wild West?

Something looks out of place in Schlegel's Ferry

Double blind WW2 game from the HAWKS

Who needs to talk about the elephant in the room, when there's a great white whale?

Alright then, the ratings:

Site:  The Host is the Host is the Host.   It held up, despite all its idiosyncrasies.  Bathrooms were clean. Parking was okay. Temperature was balmy, but manageable in Distelfink. although this is the first time I ever notice the huge amounts of heat the lights give off.  Friday night I stood under one to watch a game and I nearly got sun stroke.  Saturday I simply refused to do more than peek my head into certain rooms. Those gamers are much more dedicated than I will ever be.   I only caught the quickest of whiffs of strong BO, although I was constantly overpowered by onions in multiple place.   I also noticed all the trash cans next to the pillars in the ballroom disappeared Saturday night.  Moved perhaps?

Lodging: after one disaster at the Host during the Fall-In Blizzard of 2010/11/12 whenever, it's been back to the Continental ever since and I refuse to look back.  I personally loved playing Frogger as a kids, to the Route 30 Dash is not a problem for my large frame.

Food:  The burritos were tasty, and the pretzels overpriced but tasty.  I will mention one particular girl on-site was ridiculously pleasant and that was a breath of fresh air.   I would question where they hired some of them, but since they still performed their job competently, if slow, and I've had too many bad experiences the past  month trying to buy a gallon of milk back home, they get a thumbs up in my book

Events:  Adequate.  I would have like to have seen more exotic games based on the con theme (Forgotten History), but everything looked good.  On second thought, there seemed to be a LOT of Alamo games. 

Dealers:  A couple missing dealers, but they were made up by Hobby Bunker and a few newer ones that didn't catch my eye.  After completing my con game, I really saw little that I actually wanted to buy.  Most of my shopping was completed in the half hour before my Friday afternoon game: Dice and tape measures from Harmony House,  another box of Pegasus palm trees, a pint of bases, a pair of stone docks from MBA, and some Zap-a-Gap.  Despite wanting a French unit of gnomes to properly do Great War battles, I resisted, desperately waiting for something else to go "A-Ha!" but it never did.

Flea Market: Even jumping into the queue for the opening one session, it still seemed relatively calm compared to previous cons.  I snagged up a Teddy Bear's Picnic set, as well as two packs of Eureka Teddy Bear Pirates, then a few female 3rd Edition D&D minis for the girls.

The Meager Haul
Coming Next:  Write-Ups for the Gnome Wars and Second Samoan Civil War games.


  1. It was your dice rolling that levelled the 3 Martian Scouts, while my abysmal dice rolling failed to do anything significant with the artillery other than kill a few lobotomised humans. A good game though I fear we would have suffered even worse had you not taken out the Scouts!! An issue of game balance maybe?

  2. Howdy Comrade! If we average out our die rolls, we would have an even more tense game than the cinematic one we had. The death of a thousand pinpricks seems to be a workable tactic, statistically you're bound to roll a penetrating hit or five.

    I'm hoping their campaign rules help alleviate the worries of game balance, and well as the concerns my friends and I had about long-term playability.