Anyway, on to the point of this first blog. Conventions! Any war gamer that has not gone to a convention is going to truly hate themselves for at least a couple of hours after experiencing the first one. It is a fact! You get to learn so much in a convention. My advice to any who is doing a first time visit: do not join a tournament! The reason is simple. One, you miss out on all of the inspiration of new games. In a way, you can try out whole new game systems you have seen, but were uncertain of. Terrain, time periods, game rules, and miniatures, convention games cover it! I have gained no less than 40 ideas from a war conventions. And every year, I gain more ideas.
What brought me to running a game was the pure joy of sharing. For a couple of years, my wife and I willingly taught Flames of War rules at the local game hall as a friendly gesture. After all, we like the social experience as well as a future challenge. When I played at my first convention at Siege of Augusta in 2013, I was impressed with the friendliness of the game masters and their joy to teach. I decided I wanted to spread the joy of war gaming. So, by the second Siege of Augusta we attended, we had to run a game of the newer Bolt Action tank wars. It was fairly successful, so we decided to take it to the 2015 Historicon!
As for Historicon, for those who do not know, this is the largest war gaming convention on the east coast of America. Though, I had a successful ran a game at Siege of Augusta, I wanted to trump that experience. When you go to a large convention such as Historicon, you want to improve yourself. That does not always mean the same thing to everyone, but I believe in improving as much as possible.
It took us on our way up to Historicon, in Fredericksburg, VA, to find out that my tabled game would be on a Saturday for the four-day convention in mid-afternoon, and that I was going to have one of the front tables to main hall. I was happy about this and nervous, since the concern was whether everyone would hear me. It was a six vs. six game with the German 6th Fallshirmjaeger with the 107th Panzer Brigade in support vs. the U.S. 82nd Airborne with the British XXX Corps. This game was played on a 5' x 12' table in 28mm. The goal was to have the British cross to the other side with pretty much anyone and to kill in the process. The Germans were to stop them. This was based on Highway 69 through Holland being cut off on the later days. I know my history well enough that my troops were not in this part of the operation. One, the 82nd would not be involved with the highway cut-offs mainly, this was under the 101s Airborne's section. The main cut off being in Veghel, Holland, and Koevering, Holland. Also, the Welsh Guards and the Irish Guards would also not be responding, it would have been the 32nd Guards Brigade. I know this, but did not have that stuff modeled yet. The same goes for you Panzer researchers. The 107th did not have Panther A's, but Panther G's with Black Numbers. Minors details for people who just like to play.
Anyway, there is an important step to running a game. Test it! I cannot stress how important it is. I discovered six issues based on rules I forgot to modify. Honestly, a lot of game rule sets you do have to modify. These are some points to remember. For one, games can be one-sided. Two, there is going to be veteran players. Three, there are going to be new players. Four, you should plan a force per player. If you do not, you have players controlling everything. We had this happen on our first game. One player had all of the armor, and two players had only infantry on one side. This was a Tank War game, mainly! One player left the game without telling me about this problem. I did not know this and felt bad about the negative experience for that person. I would never allowed that to happen on purpose. Lesson learned! Assign forces for per say players! Five, games should be close to a draw or a stupidly close victory. Veteran gamers should not dominate and, newbee players should believe in success or have it. The mission, after all, is to get more people into your game!
In our Historicon game, the game ended in a draw like the Siege of Augusta one months before. The same issue occurred. People like to kill. I am cool with that, but like most convention games I've experienced, people forget the mission. I have won all but two convention games, because I followed the missions. I know for a fact, my troops would never follow me after I treated them to finish those missions, but it happens. In the two games I have run, the British armor always picks a long ranged fire-fight with Panther tanks. Logically, this would be listed as insane, but this does happen. Play testing against my wife's Allied armor, she always won.
Anyways, there is one thing to mention at my Historicon game. I have always been planning all forces around Operation Market Garden and the Seigfried Line Campaigns. Market Garden was he theme for my table, so I wanted a Windmill for this as well as for a future table as Eerde, Holland. I ran out of time for the second mat I made for the Historicon game. I did not get around to a Windmill. However, at Historicon, The Miniature Building Authority had in their vendor store a future 28mm Windmill project for this last summer. I made know secret I wanted it. An hour before, I confronted them. I told them that I had a spot for it in my game, and asked if I could use the model. I told them to look at my terrain first, before you decide. I won't lie, I was an Art Studio Major out of college, I am my worst critic! If you want a windmill, they have it out coming soon this summer.
They agreed and thus the pictures!