Sunday, July 16, 2017

Historicon 2017 - Saturday

Sometimes you join a participation wargame and its not quite what you'd hope for. Tons of downtime, unclear goals and rules, fiddly minutia that leaves you feeling every minute of a four hour run time.

But then there are other games that are just magic. Check out photos and a report from my Historicon experience after the jump, in which I lucked into not one but two of those killer games that leave me counting the days to the next convention.

The Vendor Hall

I started the day by hitting the vendor hall. I had a shopping list of bits and pieces I needed to pick up, and my gaming buddy Chris (a Blood and Plunder fanatic) had a number of items he requested I bring back to him. Unable to attend the HGMS cons due to work obligations, he asked me to take some photos of the vendor hall as well to get a better sense of what it was like. Since I shared with him, I figure it would be rude not to share with you as well.

The vendor hall had the usual array of sellers in attendance peddling figures, terrain, games, and peripheral wares associated with wargaming. I chatted with a rep from Shapeways and got some ideas for future projects, spent too much money on things not on my shopping list, and ran into a line of figures I was surprised to see.

They're Back

The Martians have returned! I picked up some starter boxes during the initial launch a few years ago, but after Architects of War folded I resigned myself to eBaying the few figures I had. Luckily I'm pretty lazy and never got around to it, giving All Quiet on the Martian Front a chance to be acquired by another company and go back into production. I might finally need to get my tripods painted and on the table.

Firelock Games

I had to stop by the Firelock Games booth to check out the new wooden corvette, and to try out their demo table.

Chris Tunez gave my son a run down of the rules in which I learned we'd been playing a number of rules just slightly wrong. Oops! Glad I was able to clear up some misconceptions though!

Other Bits

Wargaming specific lighting effects? I thought I'd have to raid the model railroad shop, but maybe this will work for some projects I have in mind.

"Why is that castle wearing a sombrero?" - my wife.

Old Glory buildings perfect for some Spanish colonies


Despite only being at the con for about a day, I felt like I was able to play a lot. I got to try a number of demos in the vendor hall (great for getting a taste of different rules systems), scoped out a number of great looking set ups in the main hall, and joined a Shatterlands game (a pretty unique individual skirmish game with randomized character profile cards that include lottery-style scratch of damage trackers!)

Shatterlands character card with scratch off damage trackers
Steampunk/Renaissance game. Lots of airships! 

I got a closer look at the awesome pirate board set up. Fantastic! So many little details, clear "zones" (village, fort, mysterious river, etc.) that made it feel like a real place.

The fort with baggage train

A road snaked its way from the fort to this village.

The village with workers unloading goods.

Beyond the village was a church and other buildings farther into the jungles.
Beyond the church were the wilds with this mysterious river.

Defensive position and rope bridges

I had to strain to get a pic of the dice boxes. They were nestled into the terrain and hard to pick out from the terrain on first glance.

Vine encrusted temples and states with intimidating skulls posted nearby.
Also check out the large plant that dominates the center of the photo. Its just a houseplant sitting on the floor abutting the corner of the table, but added a visual backdrop that enhanced the ambience and provided a sight block to the snack area beyond.

Commando raid with dock security trying to stop them. The yellow circles are pools of light beneath street lamps for this night time battle. I thought that was a neat touch.

Awful Green Things From Outerspace board. In the dark room the lighting worked into the terrain was impressive (but my camera has lightened the whole photo). Talked to some players who ran through it during two different sessions so it sounds like it was fun!

Huge WWII game on table with teddy bear cloth fields covering every inch. So cool.

Allies advancing lengthwise down the 16 foot board along the train tracks.

Axis defending this town that commanded the heights at the end of the board.
All Quiet on the Martian Front battles in the main hall.

I checked in several times Saturday, and either this was a monster game that lasted all day, or there were AQoTMF games being played back to back.

Good to see the alien greeblies back on the table.

SOCOM and Sorcery

I signed up for a spot in Miles Reidy's WW2 vs Egyptian Fantasy in a pulp three way battle that did not disappoint.

My son and I ran a Fallschirmjäger team with armored car support. Axis and Allies set up on opposite ends of a 16 foot board, our objective to capture Professor Akbar (who took shelter in the catacombs beneath a pyramid in the center of the table)

Our paratrooper ready to move out

The locals weren't happy to see us.

We initially skirmished with Arab cavalry and sharpshooters lurking in the hills. As we drew closer to the pyramid though, it's sorcerous influence summoned nefarious supernatural guardians in the best pulp manner.

Our tank was forced to deal with a monstrous troll like guardian.

Our other Axis teams cut their way through hyena-like gnolls and managed to break their way through the hills in pursuit of the Professor.

On the other side of the board the Allies were struggling to deal with a huge dragon (shown here chomping his way through one unlucky bloke.)

As teams entered the catacombs they moved to a different table representing the "dungeons". The daring Allies sent a squad into the pyramid, rappelled down into the central temple, fought off the mummies and captured the Professor and were hoisted topside again.

The Axis poured on fire, nearly knocking out the escaping jeep with Professor aboard, but the heroic Allies raced away. A cinematic end to a great game!

It was an awesome game; my son and I had a blast. I consistently recommend Miles' games to friends, regardless of the genre. They are always fun.

Agent Carter

I managed to snag a spot in Ivor Evans pulpy "Agent Carter" game, based on the exploits of the WW2 Marvel special agent and her nemesis The Red Skull.

I spoke with Ivor a bit about the game and he mentioned he hadn't quite finished up the table and we'd only be able to play on half of it this year (with plans to complete it to play the other half in a future con). He's far too modest, as this table was a joy to play on.

Check this out.

Look at all this rubble. Great!

The town square which felt like an organic town rather than  a cluster of buildings plopped on the table. 

Lamp posts, hedges, furniture blasted from the ruins and laying in the rubble strewn streets.
Ivor ran this with the Pulp Alley rules (new to me, but pretty quick to pick up and lots of little bits of strategy to them). I ran Doctor Zola, the bug eyed weird scientist from Captain America who turns into a computer in Captain America 2 (comics!). My teammate ran The Red Skull (awesome!) and we were supported by a cadre of Hydra minions.

We were opposed by Peggy Carter, Tony Stark's dad and a variety of other heroic sidekicks. Various artifacts littered the battlefield, including Captain America's shield.

The Red Skull preparing to race towards an artifact hidden at the far end of the battlefield. Doctor Zola and his goons would concentrate on the objectives in the center of the table.

Taking cover behind some boxes, my goons traded fire with the heroes.

The Red Skull approaches the ruined church, the supposed resting place for an object of mystical power.

Egads! Disturbing the church ruins summoned a horde of scarabs that poured from the town's wishing well ("I wish this well wasn't full of scarabs.")

The Red Skull confronts the church artifact's mysterious protector!
It was a great game. Hydra did very well, claiming three of the artifacts by turn 6. We confidently continued to echange fire with the good guys, but two of our Hyrda goons were wounded in the battle and had to make health rolls to survive. On the last rolls of the game both of our minions bled out, dropping their artifacts and giving wins to Agent Carter and her team! Crazy, hilarious, awesome and so evocative of a pulpy Marvel flick!

Wrap Up

We had a great time, my son is eager to sign up for Fall In, but it's a bit bittersweet with this being the last year at Fredericksburg. We are not looking forward to the Host for the next Historicon. I know the HGMS Board is in a tough spot regarding financing the conventions, but I fear the Host is only going to exacerbate the shrinking attendance rather than fix it.

For now though I'm home with sacks of goodies to keep me busy for the next few months, and lots of ideas from seeing and playing in so many inventive and thrilling games.


  1. Absolutely brilliant post John! Thanks for playing Agent Carter, the games are really only as good as the players and I had fantastic players throughout the convention! If it's ok I'll just link your post to my blog when I get the Historicon entries complete.
    Hopefully we can meet up again next year :)

    1. Link away Ivor! Looking forward to pushing some lead across the next tabletop you set up! :)

  2. Seems like you had a great time, no wonder with so many fantastic games.

    1. We had a great time for sure, all due to the hard work of many talented game masters!

  3. It was a pleasure to have you and your son play and Ivor's games are always top notch. Glad you had fun at HCON. Now, because of you, I've got some pirates to paint!

    1. Thanks again Miles! And if you need any help populating your pirate table, I'm sure we'll have plenty of bits and pieces to lend you!

  4. Had a great time at my first-ever gaming con. thanks for helping ease me in, John. My post about the weekend can be found here:

  5. Absolutely sensational, so much to draw inspiration from.

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