Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Historicon 2016: A Father and Son Journey

This year, for the first time, I brought my oldest son to Historicon for the full convention.  Last year I brought him down for one day and he begged me to come back and to stay over in the hotel.  So I made plans to stay for the whole event, reasoning that we might as well get the full experience.

I made a special effort to sign him up for the HAWKS give-away game where they send kids home with entire armies to play with.  In addition, I had plans to help Luke of WWPD run a big Team Yankee game and to put on a game of my beloved DUST Tactics as well.  In addition, I planned to support and/or participate in some Gates of Antares gaming and a Hobbit Strategy Battle game.  On top of all that, I had a lot of stuff to sell off at the Flea Market, aka Wally's Basement.  In retrospect it was a very ambitious schedule.

I packed Wednesday night so there would be minimal delay on Thursday.  We dropped the little brother off at daycare to minimal complaint with the promise I would bring him back a "big monster" as a present.  Luckily we made it down to Fredericksburg in just over an hour.

Thursday:  First stop was the excellent Hobby University, where my son and I did some painting. Check them out here: Hobby University

 He realized there was shopping to be done, however, so we quickly moved on to the dealer hall!  He played a demo game of Wrath of Kings and had a great time.  We did get a starter set and play a bit!  Check it out here: Wrath of Kings 

Also I picked up a bunch of 15mm terrain from the Battlefront booth like the McDonald's, a red factory, and a farmhouse and barn set.  

We then jumped into an impromptu game of Beyond the Gates of Antares.  Here I learned that having a kid at the table draws more kids.  We soon had 4 kids playing!

The kids actually did pretty well and my son's team ended up winning by seizing the most relics from the alien planet.  Hat tip to Jeff and Bill who ran awesome games.

Wegman's dinner break!

We concluded Thursday with a dip in the pool at our hotel and turned in at a decent hour.

Friday:  I had signed up for a Lord of the Rings game and brought Easterlings for the battle.  The scenario was "Dain's Last Stand" and involved a charge through Dale by Dain and his guard against Easterlings and Khand.  The baddies are mine.  I gave up my seat to allow more newcomers to play this great game.  This game and others was run by the DC Hobbit League.  Check them out here: DC Hobbit League

Dwarf chariots


Easterling Vanguard

More dwarves and men

My son lost interest in LOTR, however, and was drawn into Gnome Wars.  He had a great time running his Australian Kangaroo Royal Cavalry, assisted by my Gnoman legion.

Amazing table and game run by Erin! 

Turning back to LOTR, the massed hordes of the east were simply no match for Peter Jackson's Dain on boar and his chariots of doom!

Dain's troops smash the front line of Easterlings.

This massed formation also could not stop the dwarves!

But the Australian Kangaroo cavalry and their erstwhile Gnomans did manage to stop the train of stolen Starbursts!  Many a Gothic and Sikh gnome perished in battle, at high cost.

Gothic gnomes fall to Aussie fire.

Gnomans and Aussies take heavy casualties but derail the convoy of cars and dinosaurs laden with stolen Starbursts! My son celebrated by eating the Starburst candies we saved.

Shortly thereafter it was time for the Team Yankee game.  Luke of WWPD and I brought forces totalling about 400 points per side.  The US leader was a bona fide Army general.  We originally had 8 slots but we got double so we accommodated 18 players!

Here is the pre-deployment setup.

There was a lot of air and prize support.

Sean teaches my son the ropes.

Cue the Russian air attack.

Fighting at the factories.

Soviets approach vital food supplies.

A huge fight on the Soviet right for the town crossroads. 

The US center gives way.

Soviet casualties are high on the left.

A Soviet Mechanized formation takes the crossroads.

Two ugly mugs!

US forces can't hold in the center...or on the right and the Soviets are victorious!

The Soviets won by taking two objectives after 5 turns.  Soviet losses were high: they lost all their air support of 10 Hinds and 4 Su-25 along with several companies of tanks!  But the US lost almost all their MBTs and the remaining forces quit the field.  Team Yankee was really fun on a 12 x 4 board!  

After a long 4 hours of game-mastering, my son insists we play our own game on the conveniently open Battlefront table.

We stopped off to watch a little more Antares before bed!

And my son found a cowboy game where he was welcomed with open arms by the players!  Then, to bed!  Phew!

Saturday:  I totally forgot to take any pictures of the flea market, but I made out very well, selling most of my big items.  But the highlight of my son's day was certainly the HAWKS kids' game. Check them out here:  HAWKS Wargames Club

Here is the table. The rules set was "Milk and Cookies" an introductory level game.  They played with 1/72 painted plastics.

Despite losing a tank early he remained in high spirits.

And eventually his Germans won!  I actually left him to play alone while I had to set up a game for 3pm.  He did just fine and I avoided being "that dad" so I think it was for the best!

The HAWKS gave the kids an enormous amount of swag!  Two painted 1/72 armies, terrain, and a bag of paints and gaming supplies!  Hats off to that fantastic organization.  Look at that smile!

Then it was time for my DUST game, which I set up while my son played the HAWKS game.  DUST is a great game that has seen some troubles with distribution and a kickstarter that went awry.  Nonetheless it remains a favorite and I put a lot of time and energy into getting a great table and a lot of miniatures painted up for it.  I did manage to snag a few pre-painted "Premium" units but most of the paint is mine.   

Here is a product display.  

The "Babylon" themed table.  Operation Babylon is a setting in DUST where the three powers (Axis, Allies, and Sino-Soviets) are fighting over potential locations of alien technology along with more mundane resources.  

Forces set up. 

The game ready for players.

Overall DUST presentation.  Literature and posters were provided by the company.

Sean gets a free comic!

I had 6 slots but 9 showed up so I arranged the sides to fit all comers!

Smoking wrecks adorn the table as the battle gets serious!

Axis jump troops seize an objective, supported by armor.

A Soviet super-tank destroys an Allied walker.

Allied jump troops assault and destroy a mercenary walker!

Marines advance to the objective.

A young Axis captain

Axis forces flank the Soviets.

Soviets are completely routed.

The last Allied jump troops destroy the Luftwaffe RSO.

 Allied forces run out of heavy support in the face of superior Axis technology!

Marines advance under heavy fire, their armor support up in smoke.

Axis armor dominates the field and the Allies retreat.  Axis victory!  

The DUST game went very well.  The system is really fast and quite deadly.  Unfortunately for the Soviet players they were caught between the Axis anvil and Allied Hammer early on and eliminated.  Many players and passerby were glad to see DUST again.  I distributed lots of literature and catalogs and let everyone know the free rules are out and available here: 

Again my son wanted to use the table for his own ends.  So we set up Milk and Cookies and had a run!

Later that evening we attended the WWPD podcast.  My son won a box of the new Battlefront West Germans fro Team Yankee!  Talk about kids' luck!  Then it was off to bed after a very busy day!

Sunday:  We did a little more Flea Market selling, then hit the dealer hall one last time.  My son tried out the airbrush stand.

I think he may be a gamer.

Conclusion:  This year was a turning point for my convention experience.  I now am sharing it with my boy, and so my priorities have changed.  I would not say it is any less fun.  Probably more so as we share the fun together and I get to see things through his eyes.  For example, he likes to look at almost every game table he walks by, whereas I would on my own rush past things I was not scheduled to play.  His enjoyment is inspiring me and my enjoyment of the hobby.  I may not be playing my own games as much, but I think I am enjoying the hobby more.  And we are both very lucky we have HMGS and groups like the HAWKS supporting the growth of the hobby.  I was also really pleased to see that the community was very supportive and kind to my son.  Hobby University, game masters, dealer hall vendors and flea market sellers alike were kind and generous to him, making it a great experience.  Historicon is great for kids and parents alike.  We will be back!  


Ryan Cruz said...

This is an amazing post, it's inspiring to see you passing on the hobby to the next generation and to see him welcomed by others in open arms.

I have tons of Dust models and really want to use them. I got in on the game very late, only a few months ago, after it had already gone through its several iterations and issues. I'm interested in the rules for the non-grid game and downloaded the rules from your link. Are they still planning on having one set of rules for the board version and one for traditional tabletop? How do these new rules compare to the previous version of Warfare (I have the book for that one but never read it all)?

Black Knight said...

Thanks for your comment! The rules you downloaded are a unified set. There is a section in them for playing it on non-grid which is a pretty easy transition. Dust Warfare was a separate product and is now being kept alive as a fan project. The new rules add a bit more complexity like warfare, as they have suppression and vehicle critical hits, but they are much, much faster than Warfare was. I think they are the best so far.

Ryan Cruz said...

Excellent! I was confused at first, as I only started reading the rules just now and saw it was grid based in the introduction. Although I like the tiles I have from the first starter I prefer using traditional 3D table top rules as it seems less gamey. I'm really glad this rules set is comprehensive, it shows that the game is moving forward in the right direction. How were you able to play the new rules set in regards to new unit cards? From what I've heard they weren't available yet, I'm wondering what the plans are for availability. I wish they had included them in the rule book so I could get an idea of what I'm able to do and what to purchase next. It is a bit frustrating that I have two sets of cards that aren't usable, let alone the confusion as a new player figuring out which cards go to which edition. It would be nice if they made the cards available through PDF like they did the rules.

Black Knight said...

The new cards are forthcoming and will also be a free PDF!

Ryan Cruz said...

YES! This is a great direction they're heading in, hopefully it's enough for people to put their faith back in the game. It's a shame to have these amazing miniatures with a unique aesthetic go to waste, especially since there's almost no representation of Dieselpunk in gaming.

I appreciate you answering all my questions, there aren't a lot of resources available for the new game out there.

Consul Scipio said...

Excellent write-up as always. The best times at the convention will be with your kids as they grow up. It's a bonding experience. You're games looked great and I know with you running the games that players had a great time.