Friday, July 26, 2013

Historicon 2013, day one (many pics)

Last weekend was Historicon 2013, in lovely Fredericksburg, VA. My usual possee couldn't make it this year, so I was flying solo, a new experience for me. Got up at 7:15, just before my third alarm went off. Chugged a delightful iced coffee energy drink on the drive in; it tasted like getting punched in the face feels, but it did the job. No appreciable traffic, even on the Beltway, plus directions easy enough for me not to get lost meant I got there in just over an hour, well on time.

First strike was the dealers hall, to pick up items I was concerned would sell out quickly. Grabbed the Scotland Yard company for In Her Majesty's Name for Aaron, and some choice figs from Rebel Minis. My poor decision of the day was also picking up the Amazons from Wargames Factory (for 7th Voyage.) Good figs, but a.) they weren't likely to sell out, and b.) the rest of the day I was lugging around a box of plastic figs, since they'd melt in the car. Oh well, lesson learned.

When we went to Historicon last year, one of the big complaints was the noise levels in the main gaming hall. The site folks put up these curtains (drapes?) as a sound baffle, which sort of subdivided the room into sections. I was dubious at first, but when things got going, there was a distinct improvement. Hopefully they'll improve on the concept next year, as well as figure out a way to cram a couple more bathrooms into that joint, because yeah, that's still an issue.Anyways.

Next up, hit the early version of Wally's Basement, the flea market where games get a table for a few hours and sell stuff they don't want anymore. Picked up some plaster terrain bits that, uh, I only have some vague ideas for. Heh. I'm an easy sell.

In the Basement, I met the guy behind Dark Lance Designs. They have some nifty projects and ideas in the works, like the above. Will definitely be keeping an eye on them in the future. (He also pointed out they are more than willing to listen to suggestions for future products, so if you have something in mind, drop them a note on their Facebook page, linked above.)

Now on to the meat of our tale. The games. First one I wanted to stop by was the Saga campaign board. I'd been curious about Saga, since it's caught on in the convention scene, and cons are a great way to learn about new games. As noted in the pic above, this was to be a multiplayer battle, the outcome of which would affect the next game. Neat concept, and I figured it'd be a good way for me to get how the game works.

Did I mention it was a lovely table? It really was, and drew a crowd of observers in short order.

Seriously, look at that.

The game itself was interesting. I may write up my thoughts on Saga eventually. I feel like I should play an actual game of it, but I am not sure that's in the cards at this point.

Also wandered by this lovely Stalingrad board.

This Jerusalem board was used for a couple games during the con, and man, that's some great work too. Cons are always great for terrain pr0n.

This beast was set up for a "Mars Needs Steam" game, the link to which I will provide tomorrow. Definitely a major undertaking, and I admire their efforts.

No, seriously, it was that big.

And man, I love the big dungeon boards. Love.

Snuck in a quick lunch after that, in which I struck up a random conversation with a fellow gamer, and learned a lot about Eve Online, and why I should travel overseas. Noted! Dude was a real gentleman.

Next up... a beginner's class on painting terrain. Here's the not-so-secret: I enjoy painting, but I am not very good at it, and I am not very fast at it. And I have a lot of terrain bits I never got around to painting, because, you know, hard. And I could be painting figures instead! But no. I declared this the Year of Terrain, and this class was step one. We learned such techniques as drybrushing, flocking, color choices, etc. Yes, real easy stuff, but I learn best by having someone show me, and this class fit the bill perfectly. Will definitely be looking at more of these in the future.

After that, another quick walk-through the dealers hall. Reaper had a booth there, for the first time. I am betting the fact that a lot of people just scored figs from the Bones kickstarter suppressed sales, but I would pick up a couple things there, and saw other shoppers, so maybe not.

I finally found the booth for Darkest Star Games this time. I'd wanted to get a look at their Spec-Sec figs for 15mm scifi, and heavens, I wasn't disappointed. This is definitely a company to watch, with a real eye for the ultra-slick vision of games like Infinity, or something from, say, Ghost in the Shell, but in 15mm. Quality stuff. They had sold out of the Colonists I'd wanted to pick up initially, but I found a couple other easy picks. He was also one of the cooler people I met this con, which is just added value at this point. Wish I had got a pic at the time, but hopefully will get those figs together shortly and up here.

Damn you, Blue Moon/Old Glory. I didn't know I needed gangster figs and terrain, but here we are. (Spoiler alert: I renew my Old Glory membership at the end of my weekend. So many treats.)

Lovely downtown Granville, IL. Nice place to visit, but I'd recommend against moving there.

My final event of the day was my first actual scheduled game of the con: "The Walking Dead of Granville, IL." I always enjoy the multiplayer GASLIGHT games run by the fine ladies and gentlemen of the HAWKS wargaming club, and this was no exception.

This time around, I played the brave hero Duke Morrison and his loyal troopers, as well as the police. The citizens of this fine burg were being turned into mindless zombies by some wicked Venusians. We were in town to rescue as many locals as we could, gather needed supplies, and track down Professor Nannini's secret lab.

Look, only a couple zombies wandering. This'll be easy, right?

I started in the southeast corner, which would also be the road out of town. Our allies, a motley groupd of roughnecks, sailors, and gangsters, started various places around the board. We made some vague plans to meet up towards the middle. (No, we didn't actually expect the plans to work. But hey.)

We can be taught.

On turn two, we learned very quickly that sound attracts zombies. Lots of zombies. And the zombies are damned tough to put down. Alright, heroes, let's get to work.

The west side of town. I never made it that far.

What followed became a race instead of a fight, with us trying to avoid firing any guns, and only hotwiring cars when necessary. (Starting a car was certainly noisy enough to get the undead's attention.) So we ran, and were tactical, and trying and failing to thin out the zeds.

Duke Morrison: action hero.

Having created a small horde by myself (whoops) I lead them on a merry chase, taking advantage of Duke's awesomeness to let me sneak a civilian out of harm's way. Personally, this was my best play of the day.

Luckily, my horde was mostly creepers. Other players were dealing with bloaters and runners, undead with different powers. (This is called foreshadowing.)

Any car that we did get running was jam-packed with civilians. This would come back to haunt us, as the zombie players (well, the players running the zombies, I mean) figured out if they attacked those cars with the bloater zombies, when the bloaters got hit, they could potentially explode and infect everyone in the vehicle. Ouch. The cars were still a good call, considering how fast they were (comparatively) but a distinct liability. I don't think a single vehicle made it out without having to deal with one or more passenger turning.

Things are rough. The zeds are everywhere, we can't find the lab, and have not been picking up enough supplies. And what's more, the zombies have started pushing cars around, causing me to exclaim loudly about there being 'some sort of brain zombie.'

Tragically, the last building we search turns out to be the secret lab. But the equipment is too heavy to get out without vehicular conveyance, so I make the heroic decision to abandon the lab junk in favor of getting the last civilian off the board safely. I just didn't think we'd get enough turns to get a car there, load up the gear, and get off the board before being surrounded by zombies, who were now massing near the exit.

Morrison ushers out the last civilian on foot, as one of his men clears the way.

And this is how Granville fell, in a storm of dice and creepers.

A fun game, indeed. There was a family of younger players there, but their father kept them in line and focused for the most part. They just needed a bit more patience to rein in their more... energetic impulses. And they seemed to enjoy the game as well, which is the reason we're all there.

Mr. Surdu discusses the game on his blog here.

Drove home after that and tried to get some sleep for an early morning and a busy day ahead.


  1. Thanks for the pics some nice looking tables that terrain looks great even unpainted!

  2. Wow - fantastic longships! Dean