Historicon 2010: Games Except DBA

Since DBA took up the bulk of my Historicon experience, I’ll go over “everything else” first.

There was “much ado about nothing” this year, w.r.t. Historicon changing locations. My two second synopsis of the Valley Forge location is that it was just fine, and I’d go back again. The only downside I could see was that the club rooms were far away from the rest of the gaming, but that’s not a big problem for me.  It certainly wasn’t substantially worse than what I remember about Lancaster.

I stayed in a campground in my parents’ RV. This reduced lodging costs, but the extra driving wasn’t ideal. For future conventions I’d consider committing more completely to “con as vacation” or maybe just a long weekend.

My big mistake was missing the online preregistration period. A smaller mistake that ended up being a major pain was choosing the wrong line to stand in during walk-in registration. The other line moved, mine didn’t: I was there for hours longer than I would’ve been in the other line. This ruined our evening, but at least it was before the convention started.

The game selection this year emphasized periods I’m not interested in, probably due to this year’s theme (Pike and Shot). The changes between the Priliminary Event List available online in May and the program seemed minimal. Luckily I only needed to find a few games to fill my schedule.

The first of my three non-DBA games was a Battlestar Galactica space battle. The rules aren’t published yet, but the working title seems to be Picon Military Academy.  It’s based on the Colonial Battlefleet rules that were played last year and published in a lincense-free generic form.

The Iron Wind BSG figures are beautiful! They have a lot of detail and look like they’ll paint up easily while providing excellent results.  Unfortunately the gamemaster didn’t have any missiles or torpedos, so we ended up with a lot of markers on the board.

The rules are IGO-UGO.  Ships have a current speed, maximum speed, and can change their speed by a certain amount each turn.  They are also very maneuverable, and can make one or more 30 degree turns each movement.  Fighters go wherever they want.  Shooting is done per weapon system using a range system: the gun’s range (including a die roll) must be greater than the target’s distance to hit.  Hits roll penetration, and penetrating hits do damage.

Our scenario was very straightforward, and quickly turned into a shoot-em-up. I think it was a bit too early for the gamemaster to be “all there” yet.

I’d play the game again, and I was very tempted to buy the figures; but I’d really like to wait until the rules come out so I can figure out what to buy first.  These ships are definitely on my “to buy” list once I know what I want.

My second game was Celluloid Heroes of the West,” a Wild West skirmish game pitting television heroes against movie heroes using the High Noon ruleset and 25-28mm figures.

The basis of the scenario was the Wild West portion of the Back to the Future series of movies: Marty McFly and Doc Brown had to get their time machine onto the train tracks and get it up to speed to travel back to the future.  Most scenario gameplay was character-based: each player got victory points for doing the sorts of things their characters did in their movie or TV show.

They had a long table set up with very dense terrain, and multiple games going on along its length over the weekend.  The tables were connected with specially built gulleys with bridges and rivers.  All the buildings opened up so you could put figures in, on, and around every floor.  The end we played on had the towns, and at the other end was desert.  We had about 8-10 feet worth of table to work with for our scenario.

This was a great convention game, but nothing I’d try to do at home.  The game would fail without the flavor of the scenario.  Our particular game was greatly improved by the boyfriend-girlfriend combination on opposite teams constantly trying to foil each others plans’ while maintaining consistency with their characters’ typical behavior (“Does the Lone Ranger really push Silver in front of the train?”

These High Noon rules seem to be the older set published in the 90’s, and not the modern version available on the Internet. Activation is IGO-UGO; every figure can move, but they need to pass an activation test to do something else such as shoot or melee. The stats have enough details that each player can run only two figures effectively.  It uses a percentile system with a long list of combat modifiers.

I’d play this game again at a convention, but I’m not inspired to paint Wild West figures or attempt to find or play these rules.  It’s just not a great game for only a small number of players without a game master.

On Friday, I got into a game of Disposable Heroes that ended up being almost empty.  This was my first experience playing in the Pacific theater of World War II (New Guinea, in this case).

I played two platoons of Japanese infantry, with a tank in support of each, as well as a mule train.  My objective was to get the mules to boats on the coast, retrieve supplies, and transport them back past a river; the US Marines across the board from me had different ideas.

The whole board except the beach and road was dense jungle (light cover) and visibility was reduced to 10″.  The Marines with their Garands and BARs (I think that’s more appropriate for the Army, who got all the good guns) totally outgunned the Japanese and had essentially no move-and-fire penalty.

The Marines were fast and deadly. In the end, my opponent crushed me utterly, leaving only the mules, the tanks (one disabled), and about 3 infantry.  I claim victory, because with everyone dead I no longer needed the supplies.

I was the only player who had played Disposable Heroes previously.  It’s definitely not my favorite WWII ruleset at a similar figure scale, but it’s fast, “good enough,” and easy to remember if you haven’t played in a while.  The terrain and figures were nice enough that I’m inspired to paint up some Japanese and/or 20/25mm figures, but it’s low on my list.

The rest of the time I ate expensive food and went shopping.  Amazingly, this year I didn’t buy any new rule sets or figures for new periods or scales I don’t already own (except for a box of 1/32 scale plastic Vikings for Martine).

The Flea Market did suck me in: I bought a painted Carthaginian army… well, actually it would make four DBA armies or a good start at a DBM army.  This force has definitely seen better days, and will make a good “beater” army.  I’ll put minimal effort into rehabbing it: I already rebased it so the base sizes are correct, and I’ll be touching up and dipping it all.  After that it’s the road to glory: either I’ll get crushed by Romans as they expect, or my victory will be all the sweeter for beating them with an army that looks as bad as this.