Thursday, July 28, 2016

San Francisco Trip

 Mary Beth and I flew out to San Francisco this weekend to visit our son, Sean, who is doing a summer internship there before coming back to finish up his senior year at Carnegie Mellon.

We spent one day at Lands End park and had a wonderful timing hiking and enjoying the sights. Sean has taken to wearing a knit cap as a fashion statement which my wife detests and she rips it off at any opportunity.

 Wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean - we initially only wanted to spend an hour of so at the park but ended up staying 8 - it's a fascinating place.

 Breakfast one morning at the hotel - my wife is reacting to my plans for year another time period and set of armies for Historicon.
I have managed to start to work on the guild ball team I picked up at H-Con

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....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Historical Day 3

 Mike and I ran three games on Saturday - the first game was Grapeshot on the Chesapeake and it was another rousing game in which a number of friends played including John S, Mike P and Steven McL.

 Ramming Speed!
 The Brit Heavy Cav overrun the fort

 Victory to the British!

 The second game was another go of Madman's Steeplechase with friends Mike P Eric Land Matt F playing

 I got the players to give a nice round of Huzzah after the game!

 The third and final game Saturday was a final run of Grapeshot of the Chesapeake which started at 9pm

 We had three pairs of fathers and son playing the game which made it a lot of fun

My gaming table after getting everything packed up
Me Sunday afternoon after unpacking all my stuff upon arriving home.

It was a fantastic con and I really appreciate all the great players we had.  More importantly - thanks to Mike for partnering to put these games on and his amazing painting skills.

I'll do a final post on my thoughts about the convention but I'm definitely going back next year.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Historicon 2016: Day 2!

 As Friday dawned the tally for the Grapeshot on the Chesapeake game stood at 2 American wins to 1 British - there was a third game late Thursday night that I forgot to take pictures of.  I'm sure the rule modification of a re-roll if a beer is purchased for the GM had no impact on that.

Lets start this post with a more detailed walk-through of the order of battle.  First the US first brigade which has 2 infantry battalions along the upper wall, a unit of mounted rifles and the reserve infantry battalion.  The is common also has the skeleton crew on the Wasp and the US gunboat.

 The second US command has 3 infantry brigades and the fort/battery.
 The fourth brigade has the large battery on the hill, 2 US infantry battalions, 2 French Infantry battalions and the allied Indians.

One note - I added a card in the deck called "Broken Treaty"  it could be played once per side and if done so a dice was rolled - on a 3+ the enemy's Native American allies switched to your control BUT if a 1 or 2 was rolled your Native American allies switched to the other side.  It was played in every game and was great fun.
 The last command for the US is the French relief force which had 3 big calvary groups and 4 infantry battalions.
 Another shot from the French side of the board.
 Now the British - the delaying force consisted of an artillery battery, a British infantry battalion, a group of Hussars and the 2 Portuguese infantry battalions.

 The British 3rd brigade 3 infantry Battalions, the 60th Rifles and a large Battery on a hill just to the left of the picture
 Here's the 3rd brigades artillery.  The 2 Brigade was the main punch of the British and consisted of 4 beefy infantry battalions and the heavy cavalry.
 Lastly the British 1 st Brigade - 2 Infantry battalions, the Native American allies a gunboat and the British Marines.

 Oops! I forgot to change out the Wasp's nameplate - well at least the painting challenge got some free advertising.

 A quick shot from my table - Clarences and Barry's table was just a few down and was constantly mobbed - Beneath the Lilly Banners looks to be a wonderful ruleset!
 OK the first game of the day.  This one had my fourth father son -duo playing on opposites sides.  My how son's love to play cards against their fathers in these games!

 The game resulted in a British Victory as two of the three objectives were seized.  I did particularly like the screen the marines provided for the heavy cavalry as it ran to the shipyard.

The tally now stands at 2 American and 2 British Wins
 The player group from the Friday morning game.
 My gaming buddy Mike arrived around 2:00pm on Friday and we re-set the table for our AWI-themed Muskets and Tomahawks game.  Mike brought his wonderfully painted figures (including the lavender uniformed Lee's Legion) and we used some of my Indians.  The terrain was re-aranged a bit also.
The scenario had 4 players per side all with there own "secret objectives".  The main scenario goals was for the American side to capture the British supply wagon train.

Note to self - I really screwed up the scheduling as I had the two games alternative over Friday and Saturday which meant constantly resting the table - I'll not make the mistake again.


 Mike's initial player briefings
 Battle commences!

Another group of happy players!