Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Running Games, games, and more games at Historicon!

The First Command banner in the Main Hall of Historicon 2017
As most of you know, my friends and I started a wargaming company a couple years ago called First Command Wargames. This year, we decided we would attend Historicon 2017 as a company. We would all go and run all of our released games (plus one about-to-be-released one). Everyone agreed, we sat down and created a schedule beginning on Thursday evening, and running through Saturday night. It would be a long slog, as we committed to running our games often (in my case, twice a day Friday and Satuday). We expected to be tired at the end of it, but we thought it was a great way to promote our miniatures rules to players from all around the country.
Tom running his For Queen and Planet game, while our friend Terry ponders how that huge thing could fly
And so it was! Tom ran his Victorian Sci-Fi game, For Queen and Planet, four times, Steve ran his Seven Years War rules, For King or Empress, five times, and Keith and Jenny filled in for Mike S who couldn't make it, running Raid on Deerfield, 1704, using Song of Drums and Tomahawks rules, five times, as well. I ran my Wars of Insurgency modern Africa miniature game four times (and helped Keith and Jenny on Thursday evening). I was incredibly pleased with the turnout for our games. Virtually every slot in all four games was full. I know I had the full five players in all of my events. We had steady sales, too, of all of our rules sets plus the Beaver Wars campaign rules that were just released a month or so back. I have one last bit to tally for total sales, but we were all pleased.
A slice of my Congo table with my MDF container ship, Acheson Creations pier, and view of the town square
The interesting thing about a large game convention like Historicon is it teaches you humility. After I'd set up my "That's My USAid - Congo Chaos" table, I was pretty pleased. I thought it came together really well, what with my new ramshackle tin huts and the big MDF cargo freighter that were on the table. Throw in the Acheson pier, destroyed concrete wall sections, some cool buildings, and I was satisfied. That was until I looked around...there were LOTS of great looking games. I realized that, no matter how pleased I am with any table I set up, there will always, always be someone whose artistry outshines my own. Just like in the Lead Painters League, I know I will never be top tier, but will have to be satisfied with being second tier. This year, the eye-catcher was the Frostgrave table -- a stunning medieval-fantasy winter stronghold city with an iced up harbor, long spans of elevated walkways, and even a flashing wizard's light that puts my burning cabin on Deerfield to shame. It was amazing to walk around an admire it. Heck, it made me want to go out and buy the rules, and I really don't know much about it other than it is really popular now and involves some sort of magical skirmish/roleplaying aspect.
The showstopper - a 28mm Frostgrave set up that made me feel, well, second tier at best!

I did not get a chance to look around the whole convention hall, having to be content with wandering the Main Hall where the First Command games were. We were up near the front, a few rows back from the entrance. Steve's banner he'd created for the company hung proudly, announcing our presence next to the display of our rules sets. I never made it to the side rooms, where I'd been trying for months to land us a spot. We were supposedly penciled in on one of the small ballrooms to the side, but a late influx of games by an established gaming group shoved us back into the main area, I was told. In all honesty, it was probably better for visibility to be in the Main Hall. It was just really hard on our voices, and for our players to hear us. The main hall of pretty much any gaming convention is always crazy noisy. I think I do a pretty good job of projecting my voice, varying the tone and stuff to allow my voice to carry to my players. However, all of us said our voices were shot by Saturday night.
I bought this fun board game in the Dealer Hall
I actually didn't mind my schedule for running Wars of Insurgency. I ran it the same times Friday and Saturday -- 9am and 7pm. That gave me a long break in the middle to have lunch, relax, and hit up the Dealer Hall. I ended up not buying very much, actually. This was probably my most restrained purchasing year at Historicon, yet. I bought a board game -- Kings of Tokyo (mainly for my student board game club); Howard Hues paints that I needed; two 3-D printed zodiac boats from Sea Dog Studios; and three "Technical Crew" packs from Stan Johansen Miniatures. As you can see, the only miniatures were for my 20mm Africa games, so I guess that's where my focus is now.
I picked up two 3-D printed Zodiac rubber boats from Sea Dog Game Studios
Of course, we had some fun while we worked. My buddy Jason was there with us at Historicon, as usual. It is the only time all year we see him anymore, it seems. I know, I know...I can hear him saying: "Come back down to Siege of Augusta and you'll see me twice as much!" Every evening, we went out for food and a beverage or two. So, it was fun to reconnect and razz each other.
The only miniatures I bought were 3 packs of this set from Stan Johansen Miniatures
Speaking of good times, I had some great, fun players in my games. I think this year's group of players are some of the most pleasant that I've had at East conventions. I heard the same from the Deerfield GMs. They said everyone seemed to be having an awesome time. So much so that Keith won a Pour Encourager Les Autres (PEL) award for the game. That's the second time that Song of Drums and Tomahawks has won the award at an East convention. Good stuff! I will add some photos below of my best iPhone shots at the convention. It was a great time. The drive is long, but the good times are worth it!
For Queen and Planet: "55 Days to Helium"
Tom ran his Victorian Sci-Fi game 4 times. It was the first time my Da Vinci flyer made it to a convention tabletop!
The British War Machine provides covering fire for the advance of their troops
The steampunk version of Leonardo Da Vinci's aerial screw that I built
The Martian walker takes aim at the oncoming British war machine

Song of Drums and Tomahawks: "Raid on Deerfield, 1704"
We've been running this game in Great Lakes country all year, so it was a natural to take to Historicon to showcase our very first set of rules we released! Keith (assisted by Jenny) ran it five times - a grueling schedule, but one that saw a full table every time.
Eight players - a full table - refight the wintertime raid on Deerfield, MA, at Historicon
The French & Indian raiders begin to fan out and look for townsfolk to capture in the cabins

For King or Empress: "The Seven Years War"
Steve ran his big battle Seven Years War game five times over the course of the convention. He taught dozens of new players the rules. His hard work meant his rules were our best seller at the convention...great job, Steve!
Steve points out the tactical situation developing on the tabletop and explains how the rules resolve it
Another running of For King or Empress, and another packed table!

Wars of Insurgency: "That's My USAid - Congo Chaos"
Although the rules aren't in production, yet, I ran four games of my modern warfare skirmish set. The scenario took place in The Congo in the 1960s as the country gains its independence. It was a free-for-all scenario, with each player controlling a different faction, all with their own agendas and goals.
A UN peacekeeping contingent from Ghana guards the food and medicine offloaded from the cargo ship
Congolese paratroopers demand that the shipment is turned over to them (graffiti displays what they think of the UN!)
The local militia, the Leopoldville Leopards, marshal their forces to seize the shipment for themselves
A force from the Congolese army -- archrivals of the paratroopers -- move into the outskirts intent on getting the goods!
The final faction -- river bandits from Boma, Congo -- followed the freighter and now swoop in to attack
Congolese army squads move through the shantytown and past the destroyed factory
The .50 caliber jeep-mounted machine guns of the Leopoldville Leopards begin to hammer away at paratrooper positions
The army enters the outskirts of the town square and begins to fire upon the paratroopers

The river bandits from Boma race their outboard canoes into contact with the dock and fire at the UN from close range

Afraid their riverborne rivals will make away with all the loot, the Leopards redeploy their jeeps to fire upon the canoes

One squad of the rivermen actually seize the bridge of the freighter and open fire on the peacekeepers below
A canoe veers off to assault the Leopards to try to knock out their .50 caliber guns

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