Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Historicon 2013

I was going through some pictures on my camera, saw a few from Historicon 2013, and thought I should post them with a little bit of chat.

Last year I made the pilgrimage to Virginia, a substantially longer haul for me than Lancaster, but had the trip cut short by an illness in the family. Arrived late Thursday afternoon, worried about the family member all Friday, and headed home early Saturday.  So 2012 was a bit of a bust.
Space Hulk on the amazing Creative Gamescape scenery
2013! New year! Let’s give the new site a serious chance!

So Steve and I left Wednesday night and stayed at a cheap hotel part of the way to Fredericksburg. The idea was that this way we could get there early in the morning Thursday and get in more gaming. (Stayed at a Microtel – first time – the bed was awesome, room was clean – they were out of hot water by about 8:30, but for $56 I’d do it again).
We arrive in Fredericksburg around 11. We had both pre-registered and mine progressed without a hitch. Steve, on the other hand, had his pre-reg go MIA. Convention staff blamed it on a hang up with PayPal. This type of hang up seemed to be known but apparently no work was done to check for the issue pre-con and resolve it. After about an hour Steve had his entry ticket, but all his pre-reg games were now filled by other people thanks to PayPal. He picked some other games but was not happy as he could not get into the type of games he had pre-reg’d for.
What's left of my squad in a vain attempt to reach the objective.
Shortly they will be no more...
Word to the wise then. Double check both the HMGS cart system AND PayPal to make sure everything has gone through.

This was the first year I had games in the main hall. I cannot say I was thrilled with the experience. First, I had a hard time finding tables on the map and second the noise which gives me a headache after an hour in the hall. Because it took me a while to find the table, I did not arrive until the game start time. The table was already full (mostly kids) and rules explanation was in full swing. I decided to skip it. No worries, I would just relax and track down friends from across the country that go to Historicon.
Oddly, the table became divided by the bright and sunny t-shirts...
vs. the earth tones.
Steve and I headed back to the hotel (Hospitality House) and went for a swim in the pool. This would become a daily ritual for us. We got a call from the gang that they were meeting for dinner at Five Guys. Just as we finished, I got a call from Clambo asking what we were doing for dinner. Damn, in my post-pool languor I forgot to call him! Much guilt ensued, and I am sure I will be paying for this gaff for many conventions to come.
Clambo, Genestealer wrangler! Still feeling guilt, I will not photoshop him into a 'stealer.
(Though he is kind of stooped at the right angle...)
We all gathered back at the convention site and Jeff (who could only come for the one night this year) ran a Space Hulk game with some pretty spiffy 3-D terrain, which if memory serves was by Creative Gamescapes. Several of the folks had not played Space Hulk before, and those that had were well out of practice. I was decimated pretty quickly, but eventually everyone succumbed to genestealers.

Jeff followed by running a small game of X-Wing, which I was really keen on trying, but by this point it was midnight, I had had a couple of beers in me, and was too tuckered out to go on.

Friday morning we met Jeff for breakfast to say our farewells and then it was off to a game with the Wednesday Night Gamers of Alexandria playing “The Walls Are Lost!”. It used the Tabletop Battle System which I believe was authored by the games host Ben Fornshell. Last year, I played in a small skirmish game using these rules and thought it was “ok”. I thought it worked much better for this larger game between Saracens and knights. I felt how we set up really made a difference and there was a nice ebb and flow to the game. Our side won (go Saracens!) so maybe I’m biased, but even in the low points for our side I was very aware I was having a lot of fun. I hope they publish these rules at some point as I think they are really good for large convention or casual games.
Battlefield left - my forces contend for a watering hole
Ooooh, artsy angle
My afternoon game of “Swamp Worms of Aluetia” using the Alien War rules ended up being cancelled, so it was off to the pool to mellow out. After a dip, we got a call from our friend Ralph. He invited us to join him for dinner at Chez Wegman’s, the dining hot spot for most gamers. This time I did remember to text Clambo, but he didn’t see the message in time. And for some reason I feel guilty about this too.
Battlefield right fight over an oasis
Saracen cav sweep up the left side.
While we battled in the desert
Friday night’s game with the boy’s was put on by Ralph, as he had to leave Saturday morning for a family reunion. He ran Muskets and Tomahawks. This is a relatively recent set of skirmish rules in a period I rarely play. The game was new to Ralph and he had set up a fairly small scenario. I split my militia figures with Clambo so we could get more people in the game. I never quite got into synch with the game though. Perhaps it was that nobody really knew the rules, or we had too few troops spread among too many players trying to be inclusive. I’d definitely give them another try, so perhaps Ralph will be able to put on a larger game next year.
Oh pretty pretty (the board, not the guys)
My troops walk the wall. The light infantry enemy flits about
like butterflies
Regulars shoot!
Saturday I debated sleeping in. Steve guilted me into going and playing my 9am game of Warzone. And was I glad he did. Back in the day, I was a big fan of Warzone and was interested to see how well the game had aged. I was surprised to find it was still a lot of fun. I really should r drag out the rules and the figs and introduce Steve to it.

Saturday afternoon I had a table at the fleamarket, err, excuse me “Wally’s Basement”. Most of the con the fleamarket did not seem that well attended, and many that were selling did not seem to be pricing things to move. I brought a lot of stuff and priced it cheap so I quite happily brought in several hundred dollars. I just wished I had had less to carry home. I should add I swung by the “free” Sunday session which years ago was a good place to pick up some deals and found one person already in the midst of packing up around 10am. What has happened to the fleamarket? Sporadic attendance and few deals. Why has it changed?
Flushed with success but beat from the fleamarket, Steve and I decided to go for “real food” and ate at The Melting Pot. This was a first for me and the variety of fondue surprised me.
Warzone! A 90s flashback.
Sunday morning saw a final pass in the vendor hall and hitting the road for home.

While on the topic of the vendor hall, I guess I should discuss my loot. I frankly was not that excited by the vendors this year and my purchases were sparse. At least 50% was spent at Splintered Light and Rebel, picking up some modern mercenaries, some pirates, and some dwarves. Foamcoat from the Hot Wire Foam Factory, some scenery bits from Acheson and B&VTraders, dice from Harmony House Hobbies, super glue, and some flock from Purple Wyrm (Reaper). Micropanzer was supposed to be there but didn’t make it (I heard a rumor of car trouble) which had been big on my buy list and Acheson was not carrying as much of their catalog as they have in the past so a few “must buys” didn’t happen there either. Oh, I got a couple issues of Weathering Magazine from Sgt.Major. I miss On Military Matters being at Hcon. This year I didn’t even renew my Old Glory Army card.  

So over all, how would I rate the Virginia Historicon experience? “Meh”

Something is missing for me. I loved the nooks and crannies of the Host. There was a cozy sense of home to me, of intimacy, that I am just not getting in Fredericksburg. I miss the overabundance of vendors at Lancaster as well. I know others feel different. That’s ok. I can just talk about how it feels for me. For all its faults, Historicon at the Host felt like a party with thousands of friends, Fredericksburg feels like I am being processed by a big business. YMMV!

(And this doesn’t mean I won’t be there next year!)


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