Hi all! Sorry I’m so late with this, but things have been popping here lately, so I’ve not had as much time as I’d like. Still, better late than never.
A few weeks ago I went to my first-ever Historicon, in Lancaster, PA. Historicon is a (mainly) historical miniatures wargaming convention, although some sci-fi and fantasy gets played as well. This is an enormous convention, and I felt quite overwhelmed the first day. I can’t say anything about the convention (which itself was wonderful) without mentioning the hotel (which sucked beyond belief). It’s undergoing a renovation, and there were areas of bare concrete in the hallways, the rooms themselves were straight out of the 1960’s, the bar only had one bartender (and so the bar closed when she left, which was at 10 PM on one night), the place ran out of hamburgers at one point, and was generally as horrible an experience as can be imagined. Fortunately, they’re moving the convention to the convention center next year, which should hopefully improve things manifold.
I ended up playing in two games, watching many more, and sitting in on a bunch of seminars by the staff of the classic hex-and-counter wargame company SPI from the early-mid 1970’s:
The first game I played was a Conan-themed scenario for Sellswords & Spellslingers by Ganesha Games. It’s a cooperative skirmish game where 1 figure represents 1 individual on the field. We played a “Beyond the Black River” scenario were a band of 10 Aquilonians (us), led by Conan, had to infiltrate a Pictish village, rescue 2 hostages, and slay the evil Zogar Sag. The figures were 28mm’s, some of which were custom made for this game. We were essentially playing against the game, as each failure to roll over a 3 (I think) meant we got an event, which could be a Pict ambush, more Pictish reinforcements, a monstrous beast entering the board, some other bit of bad news or, rarely, something in our favor. We had a grand time, and were able to barely make it off the board with one hostage before onrushing hordes of Picts got to us. The guy who ran the game, Joe Procopio, did a write-up on his own blog about how he designed the scenario and the terrain, and I highly recommend reading it (his blog is now on the “Blogs I read” list to the left).
Initial board setup
Character cardsOur GMThe players
The Pict village, with Zogar Sag and the two hostages in the centerWe are split in two groups. Our group will scale the wall at the back corner with a rope, while the other makes a frontal assault on the main entrance as a distraction.Giant crocodile and forest devil take out Conan, by Crom!We’re about to scale the fenceBy Mitra, just as we’re about to get inside, a random event places a dragon right in front of us. More forest beasts make things very difficult for us, but eventually we get inside and start towards Zogar Sag and the hostages.
Zogar Sag is taken down at last, and one hostage flees with usA huge skirmish ensues as the monsters, no longer under Zogar Sag’s control, turn on the Picts and each otherWe escape the board just before another group of Picts would have done a lot of harm. Yay, victory!
All in all, a terrific game, and a wonderful time. I’d highly recommend the Sellswords and Spellslingers rules to anyone looking for a very light fantasy skirmish game. It’s not mechanically complicated at all, and we all picked it up in minutes.
The second game I played was Triumph!, a miniatures wargame covering both the ancient and medieval periods, by the Washington Grand Company. I’ve been looking for a set of rules for this period for a long time now, and I think I’ve settled on this one for my needs. It’s pretty rules lite; you roll a die each turn and that’s how many actions you get. The kicker is that one action can activate an entire group of figures, as long as they’re touching. But combat is done by individual bases of figures; it’s far more likely that a given base will retreat or advance rather than destroy or be destroyed, thereby losing contact with the bases on either side, and therefore requiring an activation of its own in order to link up with its fellows. It’s a very elegant way of simulating disruption without having a specific “disruption rule” or having individual units being disrupted. After a couple of rounds of combat, your forces are going to be all jumbled up even if you’ve been winning, and therefore you’ll need to spend a turn or two just getting everyone lined up again, so they can all march or attack together with a single activation.
I played on the Roman side in the battle of Cynoscephalae, commanding the right flank. Three of us with our legions squared off against Macedonian phalanxes under Philip V. I started off with absolutely crappy command rolls (I got a 1 and then a 2, while my counterpart couldn’t seem to roll anything but 5’s and 6’s, meaning he was moving units all over the place, while I was struggling to move anything at all).
My central legion (that long line of troops in the left-center of the photo) only needs a single activation to move or attack. My plan was to detach a part of it to come at the Macedonian light troops at the bottom right of the photo.
The trap is sprung. I detach a third of my central line of troops, wheel them into the flank of the enemy skirmishers and light cavalry, and obliterate them. I was then able to turn around and do the same thing to the enemy center. The battle was won.Here’s a great example of what I was talking about vis-a-vis disruption. With that one unit in the center of the line retreated, I now need three activations to do anything with the troops. If they were still in a single line and adjacent to one another, it would only take one.
And finally I’ll leave you with a bunch of random pics from the rest of the convention, showing some of the amazing terrain and figures, and shots of the dealer’s area, which was in its own building detached from the rest of the hotel, accessible only through a rubble-strewn construction site. Yay.