Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Historicon 2014

I enjoyed a solid 2-and-a-half days of gaming and socializing at Historicon this year.  One thing that made it extra cool was sharing the experience with my good pal, Steve.  This event was Steve's first historical wargaming convention, and it fell on his birthday weekend, which gave him a kitchen pass away from the family and gave us free reign to eat, drink, and roll dice.  Good times.

Of course, ironically, I go to Historicon to play the sci-fi and fantasy games!  Those genres are viewed by some of the historical gamers as second-class citizens at Historicon, but the alternative-reality games are a drastically different experience than what Adepticon and NOVA Open offers. 

Rather than competitive tournaments, most fantasy/sci-fi games at Historicon are narrative, collaborative games, hosted by a game master for about a half-dozen players, plus-or-minus.  The rulesets are more "convention-tailored", streamlined for quick-learning and fast play.  And there is a healthy dose of alternative genres, like Victorian steampunk, pulp, Western, etc.  So Historicon is definitely worthwhile to non-historical players.

All Quiet on the Martian Front

Speaking of alternative genres, here are photos of models for the new game, All Quiet on the Martian Front, a War of the Worlds -inspired game by rules-author legends Alessio Calvatore and Rick Priestley (and Ernie Baker, too, but I don't know what his credentials are).  This is the first time I've seen the game in person.  The number, variety, and creativity of the models absolutely blew me away.

Jessica "Brushmistress" Rich

One of the unexpected surprises at Historicon this year was that I had the pleasure to meet regional painter extraordinaire, Jessica "Brushmistress" Rich.  It was a real treat to see her freehand work in person, especially a banner that showed a Brian Froud-inspired collage of fey and goblins (why-oh-why did I not take a photo?).  I even had the opportunity to play one of the "big table" games with her husband, Ray.  He played all the Bad Guys for the entire table!


As a matter of fact, here it is.  The game is called Crom, basically a setting for Conan the Barbarian.  That's me on the right side, standing up, in the blue shirt.  Ray is on the opposite side of the table from me.

Photo credit: Miniature Addicts Anonymous on Facebook

Conan fights in the mid-town bazaar, amongst the dancing girls.
The party arrives at the third scene, the Jungle Ziggurat!
Fantastic terrain.
The secret, underground ruins arise, and the dark summoning ritual begins.  Will our heroes save the day?!
The person who played Conan had the honor to wear the horned helmet.  It was temporarily passed to the people who played female characters who were lucky enough to win "Conan's Favor".

Lord of the Rings Strategy Game

 Saturday morning, I played a game of Lord of the Rings Strategy Game, a game I've wanted to play for a long time, but have never really had the opportunity to.  I learned that the gentleman who ran this game is local to me, so maybe I'll be able to work LotR into my rotation!

That said, I was surprised to find the melee combat a little unsatisfying.  Logically, it makes sense to me -- the opposed roll, one-side-wins mechanic is fast and sensible.  It's something I think I might have come up with myself.  But for some reason, it didn't hit on all cylinders for me.  I suspect if I read through the rules, the logic of it will open the emotional response.

In any case, the terrain and the models were fantastic, and the overall scenario and game-play was what I had always imagined wargaming to be like.  The attention to detail really brought me into the story.  There's even laundry hanging out to dry on the clothesline!

Unfortunately, our orc raid on the farmstead failed, no doubt due to a young Aragorn leading the defenses.  Punk.

40K Homebrew

The day before was a 40K game using a set of homegrown rules.  The game was a blast.  It was a real treat to just focus on the narrative and enjoy all the flavor of 40K, without all the baggage of overwrought rules and competitive list-building.

I requested to play the Gretchen, the goblin-like guys in the center.  Because I like goblins.  They suck in combat, but they crack me up.  As a bonus, I also played the Killa Kan and the Orc Heavy Weapons team.

For the first 3 Turns, the Gretchen hid in the forest on the flank, taunting and tempting the Space Wolves away from the center objective.  The Space Wolves took pot-shots at them to no avail and then finally decided to ignore them.  At which point, the Gretchen popped out of cover, pop-guns ablazing!  They actually took out enough Space Wolves to weaken their effort at reinforcing the center, and the Gretchen made a substantive contribution towards the Ork victory.  Yay!

Napolean at War

As I mentioned, I didn't go to Historicon to play historical games, ha, ha.  As it turned out, though, my gamemaster was a no-show for one of my games, and I tracked down Steve to see what he was doing.  Turns out they needed another body for a Napolean at War game, and the empty chair was directly across from Steve!

Now if I'm inclined to play anything historical, it would be something from Ancients up to Renaissance, in chronological order of preference.  Napoleonics is pretty much off my list.  But I have to admit, this game was really fascinating.  I really enjoyed the formation maneuvers, the tactics, and the troop types.  And aesthetically, the 15mm scale was pleasing to the eye for that scale of  battle. 

I was on the side of the French, and I was assigned to defend the village, which was the objective overall.  Poor Steve was assigned to launch an attack through the swamp.  I had a definite defensive advantage, and it played out true to expectations.

Steve maneuvers units through the mucky swamps.

The offense had difficulty forming a wide enough frontage, and the French defenders pretty much had double the firepower.  None shall pass!

The swamp was a lost cause, so we shifted our attention to a cavalry fight to see if we could break/hold the line on the battlefield.

The French won the initial conflict.  I then sent units on suicide missions, just to see what would happen.  They died.

But the French were victorious in the end!

Evening pick-up game

I tracked down Steve after all of the organized events were over, and he had settled in with a good group of dudes who live in our region.  They were playing a relaxed Wild West game, basically drinking and rolling dice.  This was a great way to wrap up the day.

Most, if not all, of the terrain is home-made!  Phenomenal.  You can see Swearingen from Deadwood on the balcony of the center building, designed to look just like the building from the series.

The signage on the left is a giveaway that I was playing with people my own age!

Art Competition

I didn't realize that Historicon hosted an art competition, much less one that featured a fair amount of fantasy and sci-fi figures.  If I had known, maybe I would have competed!  There's always next year.

Always nice to see a nicely-painted Rackham figure.

Love these Samurai rabbits.

For even more great photos of Historicon, check out the gallery of the Miniature Addicts Anonymous Facebook group, here.


  1. Very great tables and settings.
    I am a great fan of the martian front setting. Surely one game i will fall for one of this dazs... When i'll finish my innumerable projects...

    1. Thanks for commenting, Shuby. I'm glad you enjoyed the show report!

  2. Great report, Shades. Definitely not what I would have expected of Historicon.

    Awesome pictures, too!


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