Thursday, July 21, 2016

Historicon 2016: Final Thoughts

First I'll leave you with the greatest gaming idea EVER - the Stay Puft Marshmallow Monster vs Gangsters.   This picture was taken from Ivar's fantastic mobster table and is hopefully a hint of a game he'll run next year!

I really enjoyed Historicon and plan to attend next year when it returns to Fredericksburg and run games again.  There are rumors that it may move north in 2018 so we'll need to see where it goes after that.  I'll still go but if it's a long drive I may scale back the size of the games I put on.

So in typical self-absorbed blogger fashion lets review what I thought went well and what could have gone better.

Good Stuff:
(1) Convention Staff:
The convention staff was very helpful and they came through with a great table for me to use throughout the con (thanks Bill R!).  The rentals tables that are used are bargain priced so are a little beat up - always remember to bring shims to level things out.

(2) Players:
Both Mike and I were very fortunate to have great sets of players and all nine of our 8 player games were fully filled (72 players in total).  We had about 25% no-shows (or late shows, more on that in the "could have gone better" category) but always had enough people wanting to get in.  Players make the game and the ones we had were fantastic.

(3) PELA Award:
For the third year in a row, Mike and I won a PELA award for our game - now the appropriate thing is to say "I'm not into to awards" but that would not be truthful.  I like getting them and trying to win one motivates me to make the gaming experience better each year and that is important to me.  I would like to see HMGS publish who wins the game of the con and other higher awards.  I think it would be helpful to see what other do better so I can improve my "game".  I do realize that judging games is highly subjective and there isn't a standard but I'm still new at this and have a lot to learn.

(4) Seeing Old Friends and making New Ones:
One of the best things about the cons is there is a fairly large number of like minded souls and there is  an opportunity to meet new gaming buddies.  It also gives me the opportunity to spend time with my WWPD friends and others which is always a huge plus.  Mike and I have also developed a number of people who are now regulars at our games and it's a real joy to host them at the table.

(5) Seeing Other Games:
I am constantly amazed at the creativity this hobby allows and really enjoy wandering around looking at all of the ways people choose to express themselves on the hobby table.  Doing so allows me to learn how to make my games better and improve my players gaming experience.

Could Have Gone Better / Ideas for Improvement

(1) Transporting:
This ones on me - I didn't organize any help from gaming buddies and ended up packing, transporting in and out of the con area all my stuff on my own.  It was pretty exhausting.  Luckily, nothing was damaged or lost but next year I need to plan better.  I think this is the 50 year olds equivalent of asking friends to help you move apartments when you were in your 20's!  I wonder is the response rate to my emails will plunge in the months leading up to Historicon 2017 after publishing this post?

(2) Registered Player Management:
As a GM you never know if your game is fully sold out or not and it can be difficult to make the call when to allow people who didn't register for the game in.  Given I always had 4-5 people who wanted in and were not registered, I made a decision to make the cutoff promptly at the start time.  Several people came a few minutes late and lost their spots, which I felt bad about but didn't know what else to do.  Waiting past the start time just reduces the amount of play time everyone has.  It would be great if HMGS could have a web app that allows GMs the ability to look up and see if their games are sold out or not.  For privacy issues I understand you can't release player names but surely theres a way to publish the register status and how many spots are open / filled.

(3) WiFi Access:
There was no WiFi access in the convention center and that's a pain in the *** for those of us with significant business and/or other commitments - sadly my portfolio companies don't take a break when I go gaming.  Providing WiFi access might actually be a revenue opportunity for HMGS as I'd be happy to pay $10-$15 for access over a few days.

(4) Game Master Social:
I think it would be a good idea for HMGS to organize a social for those of us who put on the larger and/or multiple games.  I'm still learning how to do this and having an opportunity to meet others who are more experienced at it would be very appealing.  We don't put on games for the price break on admission - we do it because it's fun and creating a little more camaraderie within our ranks might help promote more of the larger "show-piece games"

(5) Secured Storage:
I left my minis on the table top each night when the halls shut down and had no problems other than the constant worry they might wander off.  It would be great if HMGS could provide a locked room to store stuff overnight - again that's something I'd pay a few dollars more for the privilege to do so.

(6) 9 Games at 4+ hours each (including setup) over 3 days is too much:
Again, this one's on me, but running 9 games over three days didn't allow for any real down time or the ability to play in other games.  Next year I think I'll cut the game slots down to six (2 each day) and leave the evenings free.  By the last game Saturday night, which started at 9:00pm I was wiped out.

What about Next year?
Mike and I will spend the next few weeks thinking about what we'll put on next.  After seeing what Clarence and Barry put on and getting a copy of "Beneath the Lilly Banners" I'm thinking of a game of that type (which will require a new armies be painted up!).  I'm also leaning towards doing a Frostgrave like game which can be easily scaled up or down to meet player demand.  Because we're not all that bright we'll probably do both....


john de terre neuve said...

That was quite an accomplishment Miles, congratulations.


Peter Douglas said...

Well done Miles, I admire your energy and enthusiasm! Great to hear that you're already planning for next year. Transport wise I bet you could get some volunteers to help schlep stuff yo and from the vehicle with a bit of planning. I'd be there in a flash if I was at the Con and I bet others would be too. I am not sure what the 50ish equivalent to the universal 20ish currency of beer and pizza, probably beer and pizza but in smaller quantities.

Terry Silverthorn said...

From all that I've read of your adventures, you had a fantastic (though exhausting) time. Kudo's...Even though I am over 50 myself, it's still 'GAME ON' when it comes to games conventions, I just ensure I have a couple days to recover after it before returning to work.

I agree, running games non-stop does prevent you from enjoying some time just rolling dice yourself. Definitely be sure to play some games, just for the mental break.