Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Historicon 2011

As long as I was catching up on conventions, I thought I'd record a little bit about my Historicon 2011 experience.

This was the second year the convention was held at the Valley Forge Convention Center. As many of you may know, it will probably be the last as a significant percentage of the site will be converted into a casino.

Summary of impressions:
• I think there were fewer dealers than in years past
• There were fewer games I wanted to play listed in the PEL
• I don’t care what HMGS may publish, I think there were fewer people there.

On to the nitty gritty.

The Room:

This year I stayed at the Radisson and thought it was very good, especially compared to last year’s experience with the Scanticon. The room was large, clean, and had Select Comfort beds. Most importantly, the AC could keep up with the heat. Finding the secret "warp gate" between the two hotels was great too.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


A wee bit in the past, but let’s talk about GZG-ECC 2011, held back in February of this year in Owego, NY. This was the con’s second year in Owego after having its previous home, the Hotel Brunswick in downtown Lancaster, PA, cease to be. It was also the second year of “interesting” weather, but overall I am very happy about the move. The hotel is clean, the staff is friendly, and it has a restaurant that is actually open (unlike what we found at the Brunswick). The annual pilgrimage to the Mexican Cochina restaurant in Lancaster was much missed.

As I have been attending GZG-ECC for many years, I’ve come to have a number of favorite GMs. While this always guarantees a good game, I decided it was also keeping me from new experiences. I signed up for two games by Mike Buonagurio, “No Fate But What We Make” and “Hard Vacuum”.

“No Fate But What We Make” used modified StarGrunt II rules to put on a great Terminator game. I was on the terminator side. Mike provided a lot of hardware: Hunter Killer Tanks, Flying Hunter Killer Tanks, mini- Flying Hunter Killer Tanks, as well as a T-1000 that would randomly pop up late in the game.
For the Terminators, the chief machine was of course Skynet, played by amigo Clambo, well known for his blog Daddy’s Little Men as well as being a cold, calculating killing machine.
The Termies were out to prevent the humans from destroying a satellite uplink. We took an aggressive posture and advanced on the skinjobs quickly. The humans surprised us with explosive packs that they would tag the HKs with, usually with unpleasant results. If I recall, in this shot the treads had just been blown of my HK, despite having covering fire from the flying HK just coming into view.
At games end, the Terminators had successfully kept their uplink intact and the humans had failed to achieve their objective, but it was a near thing as the humans were about to get their T1000 equivalent which would have pressed the Terminators hard. We are lucky the game slot ended.

This was a really fun game. I pinched a copy of Mike’s SG2 mods and have started a 15mm Terminator project.

Second game was also by Mike and also SG2. Hard Vacuum was interesting from a number of perspectives: it was on a planet with no atmosphere. Get hit and your suit is punctured, effectively putting you out of the game. It was also much more vehicle focused, which is rare for my SG2 games. it was played in cm not inches. I think I have always played 15mm SG2 in inches – I like how the ranges look. And finally most of the stuff was purchased in one lot on TMP for a song: a beautiful HOTZ mat, figures, Airfix Hawks from Space:1999, and I think the buildings as well.
Dang, what a beautiful setup! Some folks step in it!

Basic scenario was a rival company trying to sweep in and catch unawares the poorly defended mining camp. Sadly there were a low number of sign-ups for this game, leaving me as the attacker against two running the mines defense. As I said, I don’t have much experience using vehicles in SG, but I gotta say zipping in with the Hawks was kinda cool!
My forces got really bogged down mid-board and when these elite forces popped out of the mine, it was game over!
Mike put on two very fun games and I thought I had found another interesting GM to follow. At the end of Hard Vacuum, Mike announced he was moving to Texas and this would be his last GZG-ECC. Curse you cruel fates! If you’re at a game convention down Texas way, give a look for Mike. If these two games are any indication, I think you’ll have a great time!

Saturday afternoon the GM of the game I signed up for was a no show. Stuart Murray stepped up to the plate and ran impromptu game using GZG’s Crusties in a very District 9 scenario. Stuart has been playing a lot of Ambush Alley games and he brought over some aspects of that into this SG scenario.
As one of the authorities, we were trying to track down a gang selling contraband cat food to the Crusties. There was also a higher intelligence Crusty in the mix. We successfully suppressed the gang but failed to capture the Crusty. My favorite memory was running around the shanty town in powered armor mowing down everything that stood in my way.

Saturday night my co-GM krimso and I ran a pulp adventure.
(Knowledge of krimso’s true appearance has been hidden for your own protection)

Doc Savage’s team have joined forces with the underground to get to the root of some zombie tales centered around a German camp. The team had to explore the camp, dodge/slay zombies to find an underground lab filled with increasing levels of resistance. Ultimately to find Doc himself captured and in the process of becoming a zombie himself! Hopefully his loyal followers have learned enough to reverse the process and save Doc!
This game was played out using an SG2 vaiant krimso and I wrote called “SmallGrunt”
Sunday morning is usually geared toward lower key games, as everyone has been gaming late the night before and need to hit the road home. I teamed up again with krimso to run the Steve Jackson game “Frag” that was modified to use a variant of FMA. This was first done several years ago by Mike Hudak, who has been sadly absent from the don the last few years. Also absent was my brain – I took no photos.

Here are a few shots of some other games that I did not play in:
Wow, a game by John Lerchy using times from the Halo game and skyscrapers made from small milk crates with clear blue plastic inside. Gorgeous!
Interesting game by Aaron Newman. Germans vs vampires using SG2. Many of the models are paper!

Forgot to take more photos and I forgot to take pictures of the miniature painting competition. Don’t know where my brain was this year.

Purchases were on the low side this year. Picked up the first building in the second Startown set. Battle Works Studio didn’t have all three buildings ready for the con. I also picked up from the some small crates from them as well which should work for 15mm. From Star Mats+ I picked up the usual odd assortment of figures, dice, and metal bases.

Looking forward to GZG-ECC 15 come February 2012. It will be back in Owego. They are considering the possibility of games not based on GZG rules (at the Con Director’s discretion), so if that comes about will add a new dimensoin to the con. The one game I currently have under construction is still GZG based – I’m working on a mecha game using Full Thrust, but I think a little more variety might help bring in some new blood. Whatever the changes, GZG-ECC remains my favorite convention of the year.