Historicon 2019

Spent a few days; Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Historicon game convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Historicon is one of the three conventions per year that the Historical Miniature Gaming Society, East holds.  The other two, Cold Wars and Fall-In, are held in March and November (usually) each year.

This convention marked the first convention at the Lancaster County Convention Center in downtown Lancaster.  The previous year it was held at what was once the Lancaster Host and is now the Wyndham Lancaster Resort and Conference Center.  Prior to that, it was in Fredericksburg, Virginia for several years.

My wife and I arrived on Thursday afternoon in a downpour.  We were able to get one of the last spots in the attached garage, on the open parking deck.  It wasn't a big deal for us though.  We were staying at The Country Inn and Suites near the Wyndham, due to not being guaranteed a parking spot at the attached garage, if staying at the Marriott attached to the Convention Center.

I am not one of these people that arrive at the convention and don't leave for the entire weekend.  I know many people only game (possibly skipping some basic hygiene in the process 😀) but I am not one of them.  I enjoy going to the outlets, stores, and shows in Lancaster.  The gaming is part of a larger experience for me.  I have had some shows where every game I was signed up to play was canceled and nothing else really caught my eye, so I played no games at all throughout the weekend.  I may not have been at the convention, but enjoyed the surrounding area attractions.  Not having a guaranteed parking spot was a big negative, since I really didn't want to have to be wandering around Lancaster (I wasn't really sure about the safety situation) at all hours, going to the car. 

While we were not taking anything in with us, there were people bringing in items for games and Wally's Basement (the flea market) that had everything getting wet because they did not want to move their cars and lose parking.

We were helped with finding registration by an attendee who showed us how to get from the garage to the lobby.  It was very nice of him to show us.

The Convention Center / Marriott, are beautiful.  Very clean and my wife commented that it smelled better than The Host.  She hasn't really been in the new Wyndham though.

Picking up badges was quick and easy.  There was a bit of confusion as to where you went from there for the "swag bag" but fortunately I know the person working that station at the registration desk, and he called me over.

We checked out the dealer hall, bought a lot of things from Lost Battalion Games, and then checked out the game rooms.  I wanted to locate where I would be playing, and running a game on Friday.  Once that was done, we made our way back to the car, by this time it had stopped raining, and headed toward our hotel.

On Saturday we drove back to the Convention Center.  My wife dropped me off and I headed inside.  The first thing I did was inquire at the information booth about the "secure storage" for GMs.  I was told to find "someone" either in the Commonwealth Room or the Heritage Room and that there was storage for both areas.  He wasn't sure who to see but they would have a HMGS shirt on.  I was traveling relatively light, just a medium sized bag, and a piece of foam board, because I figured that the lack of parking, would play into things for unloading.  I didn't want to be running a large game, which I have done in the past, and run into issues getting everything inside.

So, off I went to the Heritage room looking for the storage "person".  I never did find this mystery person and carried my things around with me.  I was quite appreciative of the Crucible Crush vendor, who let me leave my things at his booth for a few minutes, which allowed me a brief reprieve.

In the morning I played in the game, "No Ambush, No Defeat", which was a 54mm game using the rules, What a Tanker! by Too Fat Lardies.  I own the rules, but haven't had a chance to play the rules yet.

What a Tanker! is a simple, fun set of rules, that still offers a challenge.  Playing with the 54mm vehicles, really was nice.  I own most, if not all, of the vehicles that we were playing with.  They seemed to be the ones that were sold in Walmart and Target stores a few years back.

The game involves rolling dice to determine what you can do each turn.  You roll a group of six sided dice (1=Drive, 2=Acquire a target, 3=Aim, 4=Shoot, 5=Reload, and 6=Wild die) and see what you can do.

We were the Canadian forces with three tanks (the game could have had one more Canadian tank plus some infantry).  By way of clarification, I don't believe What a Tanker! has rules for infantry.  I believe the GM, Eric, had rules.  Not sure if he created them or if someone else did.  

The three of our tanks, Buddy, Barbara, and Bomb, advanced three abreast towards the Germans.

Buddy was actually able to get a long range shot against the front armor of a Panther and knocked it out, on the second turn.  The GM gave the player a StuG to continue the game.

The Germans hunkered down, the Panzer IV in the woods, and the StuG around the wreck of the Panther.  That sort of forced us to advance.  Bomb and Buddy kept pushing forward on the flanks.  I had Barbara in the middle but some poor dice rolls, kept me from moving very far.  This resulted in me getting hit by the Panzer IV and being damaged.

The game allows for various damage and mine resulted in losing "pips" of movement on my drive dice, as well as permanent loss of two Command Dice.  Barbara was hurt but kept on fighting (at least for another turn).

I ended up with Barbara being knocked out of the game, as can be seen in the photo below.  The GM mentioned that he needed to get some smoke/fire to mark them with. 

He let me take command of Be Good, the last Canadian tank.

Shortly thereafter Buddy was knocked out of the battle.  Bomb and Be Good soldiered on.  I was dueling back and forth with the Panzer IV and Bomb was taking on the StuG.

At the end of things, Bomb was knocked out and Be Good was the last tank still functioning.  Eric asked me if I wanted to keep going.  The StuG was advancing on the one flank and the Panzer IV, was on the other.  My thought was to play another turn and see what happened.  We did so, with the StuG advancing some more.  I wasn't able to get another shot at the Panzer IV though.

At that point I figured we should call it since the better course of valor was to concede the field to the enemy.  We had lost three tanks to one enemy tank destroyed.

This was a fun game and Eric was a great GM.  I hope to play the game again soon.

I then went down to the dealer hall, still searching for the elusive "person" that knew about the storage area.  I had asked some GMs if they knew anything and was told that they were told to see "this person" but didn't know if the person existed or not, since they couldn't be found.  I heard in a post afterward, on The Miniatures Page, that the Game Registration table was the group handling the storage.  Not sure how the Information person didn't know this.  I understand miscommunication can happen, but it was a bit upsetting that something this important to a lot of people, wasn't posted with signage around the convention.  

Visited the dealer hall, bought a lot of things, stopped by Wally's Basement, spent more money, and then checked on the table I would be using for my game.  It was already open so I got things together, and set up.  I was glad I was able to set up a little early.  For some reason it seemed to take a bit longer than usual.


 I was running Sergeants D-Day by Lost Battalion Games.  Sergeants D-Day and the "big brother" Sergeants Miniatures Game combine a board game with a miniatures game for WW2 action.  They are a man-to-man, card driven, action oriented, skirmish game.

Sergeants D-Day comes with cardboard standees but they provide miniature figure bases for anyone that wants to buy and paint 10mm figures.  I had purchased the figures a while ago, had painted up a couple of figures right away (which I can't currently find; hence the clear base for one of them) and finally finished painting them for this convention.

I chose this game because it was a small footprint that could be easily transported.  I was not sure what the  situation was for loading and unloading and didn't want anything too huge to carry around.

The game was set for four people.  I had checked at the Game Registration table and saw that all the tickets were gone.  I ended up with three people, one was a walk-up though. I played the fourth so we had two Americans verses two Germans.  Both of the German players were new to the game, while the other American player has played both versions of Sergeants previously.

The goal for the American player was to take out the German mortar team that was firing on American positions offboard.  The mortar was a Kickstarter exclusive item and is currently not available for purchase.  

The Germans started out spread out.  One section was positioned around the woods, and the other the cemetery.  The second section had a few soldiers that had to enter the board during the game.

The Americans had a BAR, rifle grenade, and a ton of hand grenades as support.  All of the American forces had to enter the board at either Area A or B.

We were playing with the equivalent of a full squad per side.  While points were somewhat balanced, this scenario was created with the idea of being based more on squad compostion, rather that points per side.  Because we were playing with only one leader per player, I did make a change from the base rules.  The rules say that you always get a draw of three cards, plus whatever bonus you get from leader(s).  Usually you will have at least two leaders per player.  That amount of cards, plus the draw of three cards, means that players will almost always have useable cards to play until leaders are killed.  In playtesting I found that the one leader might not allow for enough cards in a players hand to be able to "play the turn".  I am not going to go into all the details of what you do per turn.  You can look on BGG under the game and find the rules if interested. 

German forces held strong in the "Forests of Merderet" landmark.  Despite stiff oppositon they were not dislodged, and this stalled the attack on that flank. 

 I managed to push back on the right flank but was not able to work around the hedgerow to get shots good shots at the mortar or protecting MG42.  The long range shots I had been firing were ineffective against the emplacements. 

 At the end of the game the Germans held the field and the Americans had been defeated.

EDIT - One thing I did want to mention was that one of the players who had a ticket for my game, but couldn't play, stopped by afterward to apologize.  He had a family emergency and by the time things were taken care of, he felt he shouldn't come and interrupt.  He wanted me to know what happened though.  I have been running games for at least ten years now, and this is the first time anyone that couldn't make the game, came and let me know he was sorry.  Maybe other people just didn't come to the convention and did preregistration, but it was really appreciated that he did this.  

A few photos from the "JOE HACK - Irish Tuetoberg Wald" game (after the game).  

Overall it was a good convention.  The new site is very nice but has some issues too.  On the plus side, it was well lit, clean, had clean restrooms, and was easy to navigate.

On the negative, I know some people commented on the Commonwealth Room lighting.  Looking in, it did seem to be a bit of a black hole, but I didn't have any games in there, so cannot speak to that point.  The lighting in the Heritage room was very good for the games I was involved in. 

The Heritage Room was very loud and noisy.  It was very difficult to hear people at the same table.  I ran a very small game and we were all sitting right near each other but still had some issues hearing each other.  To make matters worse, someone kept blowing a bugle, hour after hour.  I know that people may think it enhances the games but it really causes problems concentrating on the game you are trying to run or play in.  These extra "noise makers" need to be addressed by HMGS.  I have seen bull horns (Lancaster Host) and a ships bell (Fredericksburg).  I know some people said that the place was not as noisy as Fredericksburg.  I only attended Fredericksburg one year and I did not have the difficulty with communication there that I had in the Heritage room.

The other big issue was parking and loading/unloading for GMs.  I watched locals park in the spots outside the convention center for loading and unloading, laugh, and walk away.  This was on Friday night around 7pm.  I mentioned it to the HMGS representive sitting by the door.  He came out and looked at the car and said that HMGS didn't have any authority to do anything.  I had figured that the spots had been reserved with the police or at least with the Convention Center, and that someone could call the police and have the car ticketed or towed.

For anyone wishing to do any traveling around the area, via car, it isn't really practical to not have reserved parking for GMs.  That way people bringing in a ton of items can leave their car in the spot for the day.  Not sure if a valet service could be hired for the convention center or not.  That way people wouldn't care where the car went, once it was unloaded. All you would have to do is let the valet know you would need it in maybe fifteen minutes, and it would be brought around.

A local from Lancaster that played in a lot of my games in the past, had mentioned, prior to the Valley Forge Historicons, that at the Convention Center there was shuttle bus that would run to and from the Convention Center and would pick up people even as far out as The Host.  He said that made the Lancaster County Convention Center a great alternative to The Host.  Not sure if that was something that the Convention Center provided back then, or if it was something hired by the convention groups to make things easier for attendees.  It wouldn't help GMs with large amounts of items, but the daytripper or GM coming in with minimal items, would greatly benefit from something like this.  Even a minimal charge for a ride each way would allevieate the headache of parking.

On the way home my wife and I stopped off at the Winters Leadership Memorial.  It is a replica of the one in Normandy, France.

 Beside the memorial there are bricks in the walk dedicated to those that served in the American military.

Overall a really good weekend.